I love political thrillers but this turned out not to be very political and certainly not thrilling at all. Basically, it was a real bore. I only watched it until the end because I had already paid to rent it. Had I but known.
Reese Witherspoon's character, Isabella, is married to an Egyptian who's been in America for over half of his life and who has a green card. They have one little boy and another child on the way. He is snatched by the CIA on his way home from a business trip. His supposed crime is that his cell phone has been getting calls from a known terrorist who organized a suicide bombing in a "North African" country a few days before.
The question of those calls is never definitively answered in the film. We see the husband get one call from a number he doesn't know and he calls his wife, thinking it was her. First of all, are we supposed to believe a chemical engineer doesn't know how to block a number on his phone? Also, if he never answers these calls, it makes the CIA's evidence look even more flimsy. It never seems to occur to these dullards that this man is being set up so they will spend their energy on him and ignore the real members of the terrorist cell.
The husband is taken to an unnamed "North African" country, stripped of his clothes and thrown into a tight cell. He continued protestations of innocence just get him harsher and harsher treatment. It goes from beating to water boarding to electric shocks. It's graphic but I felt removed from it, somehow. I had to ask myself if it was partly because this character was everything I'm not: Muslim and Egyptian and male. I, as a Christian, American female have nothing in common with him except basic humanity. Yet, I wasn't that horrified or moved. Maybe it's me, maybe it's the filmmaking, maybe it's because I knew, deep down, a movie wouldn't kill Reese Witherspoon's husband. I don't know.
This movie is packed with stars who are given basically nothing to do. The roles played by J.K. Simmons, Jake Gynlenhall and Meryl Streep could have been played by unknowns. They didn't really bring anything to the table and this is the first film I think Streep has been actually bad in since "Death Becomes Her".
Reese Witherspoon's character annoyed me -- as her characters usually do. She's supposed to be about eight months pregnant but her fake belly is the only indication. No swollen fingers, no rounded face. She's even wearing heels. She wants an ex-boyfriend she dumped to stick his neck out to find her husband rather than contact the husband's company, which might have some clout, or contact a lawyer. All she does is waddle around and complain. Then, there is some screaming and you wish someone would throw a bag over her head.
There's a subplot involving two young people in that unnamed North African country and, while well-acted, is not necessary to the film.
Anyone who isn't a super Witherspoon fan should pass on this. It wasn't worth the $2.99 I spent.