Thursday, August 28, 2008


Let me just say that I am a fan of Don Cheadle. I like the roles he chooses to play, from the moving and emotionally driven ‘Hotel Rowanda’ to the smart-ass funny DJ in ‘Talk To Me.’ He is an actor that takes chances and they usually pay off. However, this turn as the lead in an action-thriller isn’t as successful.

The story is simple, if you read a lot of Robert Ludlum. Former US Special Operations Officer Samir Horn (Don Cheadle) has an incredible intelligence and even more incredible connections to the terrorist world. After a deal gets busted in Yemen, Horn, a devout Muslim-American caught selling goods to terrorists, is thrown in jail. It is here that he meets Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) who is spearheading an investigation into an international conspiracy. Clayton attempts to get Horn back over to the American side, only to be refused time and time again. After time spent in the Yemen prison, Horn is befriended by Omar (Said Taghmaoui). Omar and Horn begin a friendship that leads Horn into the hands of a dangerous terrorist organization, and into a web of terrorist activities, with FBI and CIA in tow.

Sure the premise sounds promising and the trailer was cut well enough to peak interest, but honestly, the film falls a bit flat. I appreciate that they tried giving Horn a bit of a back-story that would speak to his willingness to ‘go terrorist’ while overseas, however was it enough of one? Not really. As the story progresses, the viewer is taken along this journey of terrorist acts, then given a couple twists. But one of the big twists comes a little too late, then another, a little too early-the film’s pacing lacks the breathless action and intrigue sustained by ‘Bourne Identity’, ‘The Departed’, among others. I do appreciate the care the filmmakers took in presenting Muslims and Muslim Americans. The religion is such an unknown to many Americans, the way the devout are portrayed in the film help shed light on a few of their beliefs. It is by no means a college level class on religion, but you paid $10 for a movie, did you expect a dissertation on the meaning of Allah?

So here it is. If you read a lot of these espionage books and stop crunching your popcorn during certain integral scenes, the film’s textbook moves are given away. The dialogue and action doesn’t foreshadow anything, it just tells you what’s to be expected in 1-5 minutes. Yeah. You can time a bathroom break in that time, people.

And as much as I love being exposed to actors of color I had not been aware of before, especially such lovelies as Archie Panjabi (plays Horn’s love interest Chandra), honestly just drop dead gorgeous!, I felt like almost all the actors were phoning in their roles. If I were as good looking as Archie, I wouldn't be blogging, I'd be dating! lol! Not even my love for Guy Pearce earned solely from ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ and ‘Memento’ could make me say he made some strong and different choices playing a cop this time. Sometimes I think Hollywood says, ‘We need a strong jawed dude to play a straight-laced cop. Call Guy Pearce.’ Oy.

Not enough action, pretty predictable story, and lukewarm acting make this a ‘rent it’ if you want to see a conspiracy-thriller movie.