Rendition

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Rendition Movie Poster Image
Over-simplified drama takes hard look at torture.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Both "terrorists" and U.S. agents use underhanded tactics; parents and children are at odds.

Violence

Brutal violence throughout, including torture, as well as explosions in crowded streets. An early scene shows a suicide bombing in North Africa in which a CIA agent dies in Douglas' lap (blood everywhere). Anwar is tortured repeatedly -- he's tied to a chair, beaten, choked, dragged, kicked, and electrified. Photos of martyrs show maimed bodies. In a tense, lengthy scene, Fatima runs to stop Khalid's suicide mission, with pounding percussion and fast cutting. A bombing near the end is catastrophic, killing multiple people and leaving others traumatized and bloody.

Sex

Khalid and Fatima kiss a couple of times. Anwar appears naked in several scenes, usually shadowed; his nakedness (which is non-sexual) is a sign of his vulnerability (his body is bloodied and bruised from torture).

Language

Several uses of "f--k," plus occasional other profanity, like "hell," "son of a bitch," and "goddammit."

Consumerism

Sony TV, Washington Post.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Several characters smoke cigarettes and cigars. Douglas drinks hard liquor to show despair; he also goes to a bar where he smokes an opium-like drug from a water pipe. Douglas appears drunk and upset.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this heavy drama isn't for kids, even though it stars tween/teen favorites Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal. Not only does it deal with the many complicated political and cultural issues surrounding torture, but the dialogue -- which is focused on policy and intrigue -- will likely bore younger viewers. There's also plenty of violence, including explosions, shooting, and, yes, torture (there are difficult images of the victim's pain and the aggressor's visceral calculations). The torture victim appears naked in a small, dank cell, mostly in shadow. Other scenes show upset victims and negotiators; particularly wrenching is a young wife's anguished pleading that a CIA officer answer questions about her missing husband. Language includes some uses of "f--k" and other minor profanity.

User Reviews

Adult Written bylynnjc April 9, 2008

watch, think

This is a fab film. If you’ve watched it and it doesn’t make you think, then you must be brain dead. It gives a good argument against rendition. It g...
Parent Written byZhash November 10, 2012

Great movie.

Rated R for torture/violence and language
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

A brutal look at America today

I just watched "Rendition," a searing drama and heart-pounding suspense film last night with my good friend Hans and his sister Kate last night. It ke...
Teen, 13 years old Written byRdJh21 December 29, 2016

Great...for adults

It was sort of disturbing. The torture scenes were just really, really intense. I would totally recommend it to older teens and adults. It's really thought...

What's the story?

In the politically-charged RENDITION, CIA caseworker Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is torn between his ambition and idealism--he knows that the CIA acts illicitly to achieve great goals, but he still believes he can behave honorably. After he witnesses a colleague's bloody suicide bombing death, Douglas is asked to oversee the interrogation of a suspect. Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) appears to be an Egyptian-born engineer and nothing more, causing Douglas to wonder about his own pursuit of the truth at all costs. Back in D.C., Freeman confesses to boss Corinne (Meryl Streep) that he's not sure if his "first torture" is going well. Camille insists repeatedly that the U.S. doesn't torture. Technically, this is true, for Anwar's primary abuser is an Egyptian, Abasi Fawel (Igal Naor). Anwar is eventually sent to Abasi's secret prison, where he continues to claim his innocence. Anwar's wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) heads to D.C. to seek help from ex-boyfriend and senator's aide, Alan (Peter Sarsgaard). Alan briefly wonders about Anwar, but Isabella urges him to dig into the case -- and even confront the imperious Corrinne. As U.S. officials keep getting their aims, motives, and methods dead wrong, Isabella embodies what's "right." Meanwhile, Abasi's rebellious daughter, Fatima (Zineb Oukach), is in love with Khalid El-Emin (Moa Khouas). At first she doesn't know he's a jihadist, but eventually she has to face the consequences of her dedication to him -- and his own dedication to a violent cause. Torn between ambition and idealism, knows that the CIA acts illicitly to achieve great goals, but he still believes he can behave honorably. After he witnesses a colleague's bloody suicide bombing death, Douglas is asked to oversee the interrogation of a suspect. Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) appears to be an Egyptian-born engineer and nothing more, causing Douglas to wonder about his own pursuit of the truth at all costs. Back in D.C., Freeman confesses to boss Corinne (Meryl Streep) that he's not sure if his "first torture" is going well. Camille insists repeatedly that the U.S. doesn't torture. Technically, this is true, for Anwar's primary abuser is an Egyptian, Abasi Fawel (Igal Naor). Anwar is eventually sent to Abasi's secret prison, where he continues to claim his innocence. Anwar's wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon) heads to D.C. to seek help from ex-boyfriend and senator's aide, Alan (Peter Sarsgaard). Alan briefly wonders about Anwar, but Isabella urges him to dig into the case -- and even confront the imperious Corrinne. As U.S. officials keep getting their aims, motives, and methods dead wrong, Isabella embodies what's "right." Meanwhile, Abasi's rebellious daughter, Fatima (Zineb Oukach), is in love with Khalid El-Emin (Moa Khouas). At first she doesn't know he's a jihadist, but eventually she has to face the consequences of her dedication to him -- and his own dedication to a violent cause.

Is it any good?

Anguished and well-meaning, RENDITION raises questions concerning American use of torture. While it represents the dire threat of jihadist terrorism (here, a suicide bomb in an unidentified North African city that kills civilians and a CIA agent), Gavin Hood's film also challenges the effectiveness of torture as a way to fight back. But the overly simplified story focuses solely on the moral agonies and stubborn heroism of white U.S. citizens, mainly the very visible struggles of significantly named Freeman , while the film's most compelling plot about the Abasi family's struggles takes a back seat.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie portrays the practice of torture. As viewers sort out their own feelings about what he goes through, does it matter whether Anwar is guilty or innocent? How is watching torture different than seeing other types of media violence? Should anti-torture laws ever be sacrificed for security?

Movie details

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