|Reviewed on 2008-08-29|
|Received||[2.5] out of 4 stars|
| Kansas City native Don Cheadle ("Hotel Rwanda" and "Crash") stars in this espionage thriller conceived by comedian Steve Martin. Cheadle plays Samir Horn, a former special operations officer in the U. S. Army who trained Afghan rebels. He was born in Sudan and grew up in Chicago after witnessing his Muslim father's death in a car bombing. He now poses as an independent arms dealer and explosives expert. He navigates a thin line between guilt and innocence as he becomes the prime suspect involved with a deadly terrorist cell. Guy Pearce ("Memento" and "L.A. Confidential") co-stars as Roy Clayton, a straight arrow FBI agent heading up the investigation into a dangerous international conspiracy.
The globetrotting action begins with a prison in Yemen and ends with a daring plan involving suicide bombers riding buses across the heartland of
America. The movie makes stops along the way in France, Spain, England, Canada and the U. S. cities of Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The movie frequently cites passages from the Koran and delves into Muslim philosophy regarding the use of violence. Samir develops a brotherly friendship with Omar (Said Taghmaoui from "Vantage Point" and "The Kite Runner"). They enjoy playing chess against each other. They have in common their devout religious backgrounds and being fellow thinkers always anticipating their opponent's next move. The suspense escalates as Samir tries to elude detection and stay one step ahead of his pursuers. The movie plays its hand too early as to where Samir's true allegiance lies, but it offers several nice twists that put things in doubt.
Cheadle is at the top of his game with a brilliant performance. He carries this picture on his broad shoulders. Taghmaoui is impressive in a supporting turn. He gains your sympathy for his blind obedience to a cause. You gain a perspective on the terrorist's point of view. The scary thing about the threats that put our national security at risk is how well these enemy operatives blend in to their surroundings. Some of the dialogue is in Arabic with English subtitles. The camera captures some unique angles. An intelligent script and superb acting make up for some tedious filler in a bloated middle. Other recognizable faces in the cast include Jeff Daniels ("The Squid and the Whale" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo") and Neal McDonough ("Band of Brothers" and "Flags of our Fathers").
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"