"As as result, Gavin Hood's Rendition plays out as a crackling good political thriller with a simmering conscience.
In the fictionalized case of El-Ibrahimi– whose pregnant American-born wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) will instigate an investigation that will lead straight to Washington – the movie nails both the complexity of motivations behind the incident and a very good justification for paranoia.
Structured as a propulsive clock-ticker that spans several countries, a couple of dozen characters and a multitude of conflicting but equally articulated points of view, Rendition is about what happens when the machinery of government permits its own self-interest to trump those of the people it ostensibly exists to serve.
At what point, it asks, does the practice of protecting democracy contradict the very values that make it worth protecting? When do the means violate the end?
While the pregnant Isabella's campaign leads her to the office of a sympathetic Democratic senator's aide (Peter Sarsgaard), the detainment of El-Ibrahimi draws the callow CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) right into the belly of the beast.
Having been conscripted to replace the agent murdered by a terrorist bomb in a public square, Freeman must act as a silent advisor to the Egyptian interrogator (the marvelously imposing actor Igor Naor), as the latter – whose daughter is secretly seeing a would-be Muslim extremist – indulges any means necessary to extract the prisoner's confession.
His conscience increasingly strained by what he's seeing, Freeman blurts the word "torture" to the top-level CIA officer (a terrifically chilly Meryl Streep) when queried about the progress he's making.
Tersely informed that "the United States government does not practice torture," Freeman is ordered back into the dungeon to get results. It's either that or sacrifice his career – one that began, as one imagines so many well-intentioned careers did, on Sept. 12, 2001". Source: Thestar.com/Special/FilmFest