DRAMA; 2hr 2min

STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon

Phone home! Witherspoon

Ensnared by the relentless CIA, Egyptian-American chemical engineer Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) is a pinned insect in the bleakly zealous Rendition. While visiting Cape Town, Anwar becomes a suspect when a terrorist bomb explodes in North Africa. Although he is innocent, the powers-that-be — Meryl Streep is an icy blast as the CIA’s head of terrorism — exercise the divine American right of extraordinary rendition by flying the terrified weapons expert to a secret foreign prison and torturing him for information (Gyllenhaal, looking every inch a movie star, is a disillusioned CIA analyst assigned to observe the sadism). Meanwhile in Washington, DC, Anwar’s anxious pregnant wife (Witherspoon) attempts to move political mountains.


Mistrust is the secondary infection of terrorism, and director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) takes it very seriously indeed. Coming after The Kingdom, A Mighty Heart and Lions for Lambs, Rendition plays like the doomed finale of a series on corroded mankind. It is a tangled grind that can’t help but command attention for its brutality-as-a-knee-jerk-defence, while failing to deliver any real depth.