Parents' Guide to


By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Terrorism thriller has violence, torture, language.

Movie R 2010 97 minutes
Unthinkable Poster Image

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This 2010 thriller is a bold but confused attempt to portray the messy, conflicted world of torturing terror suspects for information that will hopefully save lives. Right from the off, Unthinkable packs its talented cast into a claustrophobic space and quickly raises the tension. However, despite Michael Sheen hurling himself into the role of a radicalized "patriot" willing to take U.S. lives to prove his point, there are large sections of backstory and character building that are missing in action. Samuel L. Jackson's Henry Harold "H" Humphries is quickly found and sequestered to try and save the day. But even he can't elevate dialogue and a plot that makes H wildly unpredictable and arguably not very good at his job, despite multiple onlookers insisting otherwise, in the face of no real evidence.

Carrie-Anne Moss has a more grounded role in conflicted FBI Agent Helen Brody. Her horror at H's brutal interrogation methods mirror the audience's likely surprise and shock at what they're seeing. The power struggle between H and Helen isn't enough to make Unthinkable a compelling drama, though. The story moves in frustrating circles and arguments are repeated to the point where it fails to maintain its early momentum. Perhaps this mimics the real-life dilemma that presents itself when dealing with terror suspects and bomb threats. But there's none of the inventive storytelling or character development that's also needed to make this interesting. Before long the viewer is stranded on the sidelines along with the movie's underused supporting cast, watching the time tick down for all the wrong reasons.

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