Sunday 17 July 2022

Movie Review: Inescapable (2012)

A foreign intrigue missing person thriller, Inescapable aims for cerebral action but trips on a mishmash of non-cohesive ideas.

In Toronto, Syrian immigrant Adib Abdel-Kareem (Alexander Siddig) has created a good life for his family. But he is stunned by the news his daughter Muna, a photographer supposedly on vacation in Greece, has gone missing in Damascus. Adib is a former Syrian military intelligence agent who left his home country under a cloud. Now he reconnects with his ex-fiancée Fatima (Marisa Tomei) for help to re-enter the country and search for his daughter.

In Damascus Adib registers at the Canadian embassy with diplomat Paul Ridge (Joshua Jackson), who may have something to hide, then visits his former colleague Sayid Abd Al-Aziz (Oded Fehr), now a senior military officer. Meanwhile Interior Ministry security agent Halim starts intimidating Adib, as old secrets and betrayals are revealed.

Written and directed by Ruba Nedda, Inescapable attempts to thread the needle between considered geopolitical echoes and routine action, in other words a mix of Missing and Taken. Not surprisingly, the narrative falls into an unimpressive gap. The action scenes are unnecessary and delivered with stiff clumsiness. And all the reflections on past loves, friendships lost, sacrifices made, and national secrets traded remain just that - uncoordinated ideas floating in the script without anchors or meaningful direction.

Filming in Johannesburg on a small budget, Nedda does impressively recreate corners of Damascus, capturing the sights, sounds, and dictator-dominated aesthetics of a police state convulsing with overlapping security apparatus. Less effective are the fragmented accents, the foreign actors struggling to convince. Alexander Siddig is adequate, navigating the role with reasonable levels of sweat; Marisa Tomei flounders in attempting to portray a Syrian woman and jilted lover.

Muna as the main victim and cause of Adib's adventure is missing from the heart of the film, robbing the drama of a key source of sympathy, and it's never clear how close Adib is to finding his daughter. Antagonist Halim's repeated demands for "the photographs", does not help. But at 93 minutes Inescapable at least does not linger. Hidden agendas and personal rivalries are blurted out then hastily tidied up, impressive efficiency accompanying multiplying improbabilities.

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