Sunday, February 06, 2011

"Unthinkable" (2010) - Movie Review

“Unthinkable” faces the torture interrogation with the true brutality and takes the knife right to the heart of its audience to dissect it. What we truly made of is more than we could imagine and director Gregor Jordan does not need a documentary for this. He does a stage play in this gruesome film which was directly released to DVD. Why it did not receive theatrical release is something I can never imagine but regardless of that fact it is available on DVD and instant watch in Netflix.

There is an American who is a Muslim and has planted three nuclear bombs in major cities in US. He is under the shady custody and the officials has limited time to get the information out of him. FBI Agent Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss) is brought in. A specialized interrogation consultant H (Samuel L. Jackson) is assigned as the primary interrogator. What follows is the moral pendulum swinging out of its clock and gets thrown away into the pool of blood. Whatever you think H is not going to do with the scalpel is what he is exactly going to do.

“Unthinkable” is not alone bloody in becoming torture porn but bad it may sound it is necessary in this film. Otherwise we would not even feel the iota of horrendous nature of this exercise in extracting information. Yet there are several moments wherein we as the audience tilt ourselves and think “may be there are no other options”. Agent Brody becomes that civilian despite her FBI badge. H is clinical. He not alone sees it as work but is his nature. He is courteous and has a loving family. He makes time for it. He does not enjoy this process as he would make him a cinematic villain. Samuel L. Jackson plays him with a twisted sense of straight face. He puts through the terrorist Yusuf (Michael Sheen) like a doctor operating his patient.

By now the documentaries have dissected the distraught and disgusting torture technics employed in the interrogation of the alleged terrorists. The experts in those documentaries suggest that building a rapport is the best way to get reliable and true information rather than torture leading to tell whatever they want to escape out of this pain. The director takes the time out of this and puts in a real scenario out here. They have three days.

British actor Michael Sheen plays the terrorist Yusuf with several dimensions and undertones. He knows he can take it but what exactly is taking it? The pain is not going to be less painful because is prepared for it. Or is it? I do not want to know but the idea that one can hold out boggles my mind. Nothing can prepare to the limitless evil nature of a person’s imagination to put through a fellow human being to pain. It is beyond my imagination to relate to that in persuading oneself to endure that for the sake of a belief.

“Unthinkable” never stops for leisure explaining. It knows that audience are well aware of this scenario and they waste no time in going through the necessities for a plot. It has the officials with no names standing there and order with the political and legal correctness to continue this charade H is doing in the name of interrogation. They easily change their mind as the situation changes. We are all at the mercy of misplaced morality, values and conscience as and when the surroundings morphs.

The film goes beyond the extremity when H begins to lose control of himself. He begins to go even above his non-existing boundary. While he does this work with ultimate clinical nature, he cannot fathom the failure in his work and in himself. He turns around for a moral compass in Agent Brody who now and again vacillates in letting him do and then wait for her chance to get some sanity of information from Yusuf. She is the only member in the room having tiniest bits of humanity and it is very real. That is scary sad too.

“Unthinkable” is unsettling and visceral. It does not of course answer the question but lets you through this situation where I sincerely wish none of us wants to go through. There are extents in which I would like to test my limits. Those will be for travel, endurance and happiness. The farthest I would like to test my pain will be for the aforementioned endurance and hardship for a decent cause. While those sound like I live in La-La land, sometimes those are the best anyone could hope for in the simple fantasy of regular human life. Because when you are there with a person very well determined to take this pain and give no information, what is the extent you would go to get that information? You would not want to think, do you?

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