A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Infidel is an action thriller about a blogger named Doug Rawlins (Jim Caviezel) who gets kidnapped in the Middle East; his wife, Liz (Claudia Karvan), a member of the U.S. State Department, comes to his rescue. Violence includes guns and shooting. Minor characters are shot; a young woman gets kidnapped and tied up, her mouth taped; a pregnant woman is involved in a car crash (bloody stomach shown); and a man is abducted and held prisoner. There's also fighting, punching, threatening, a grenade, and explosions. Language is likewise quite strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. Doug and Liz share some quick, affectionate kisses, but otherwise sex isn't an issue. Cigarette smoking and social drinking are shown. The movie is rather cumbersome, with mixed messages about faith (Doug writes about Christianity) and problematic representations, but at least a couple of the characters (including Liz) are interesting.
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What's the story?
In INFIDEL, Doug Rawlins (Jim Caviezel) is a journalist and blogger who specializes in writing about Christianity. He and his wife, State Department official Liz (Claudia Karvan), are invited to a graduation celebration honoring Meena (Noor Taher), the daughter of Doug's friend and colleague Javid (Aly Kassem). Later, the couple receives a call: Meena has disappeared. The police investigate, and discover a downstairs room in her home that's filled with extremist Islamic propaganda; Javid is arrested. Then Doug is invited to speak on a TV program in Cairo. While there, he makes some controversial remarks. Back at his hotel, he's kidnapped and taken to Tehran, where tormentor Ramzi (Hal Ozsan) forces him to write in his blog. Meanwhile, Liz tries to use her government connections to rescue her husband but finds that she's on her own.
Is it any good?
This "inspired by true events" drama is presented in a blandly impersonal, uninspired manner, with wobbly, uneven filmmaking, a dull lead character, and a mixed collection of messages about faith. Doug remains rather flat throughout, and when he's kidnapped, it could be for either of two possible reasons, rather than one strong reason. Perhaps writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh intended to use one of these reasons as a red herring, but instead Doug's controversial TV interview just ends up hanging there for apparently no reason. Meanwhile, the movie occasionally seems to be open to exploring different kinds of faiths and beliefs, but it always pulls back and returns to Doug's faith being the "correct" one; he even gets to "forgive" his tormentor/kidnapper at one point.
Perhaps because of this character flaw, Doug's relationship with Liz -- who renounced her faith after losing her unborn baby in a car accident -- isn't explored very deeply. How do they communicate or connect with each other when they have such different value systems? But Liz is a crackerjack character, and Karvan plays her with plenty of vibrant gusto. Ozsan's kidnapper/tormentor, Ramzi, is also interesting and amusing. Infidel briefly comes alive when these characters are driving the scene, but then the filmmaking flaws come in to stall things once again. The camera drifts and shambles uneasily, and the seemingly random cuts are both jarring and rhythmically monotonous.
Talk to your kids about ...
How are different beliefs and faiths shown in the film? Are they represented equally? What do you think makes people argue and fight over faith?
What's the significance of Liz renouncing her own faith? Does it change the way she relates to her husband? Does it change the way he relates to her?
Is Liz a strong role model? If so, how?
Is Ramzi an interesting character, even though he's the villain? Why are some villains in stories actually kind of fun to watch?
- In theaters: September 18, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: December 15, 2020
- Cast: Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan, Hal Ozsan
- Director: Cyrus Nowrosteh
- Studio: Cloudburst Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and language
- Last updated: December 14, 2020
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