Unthinkable

Unthinkable is a movie that’s, in many aspects, in the middle of nowhere; too good to be bad, and too bad to be good.  The premise is intriguing enough: an American Muslim convert sends a tape to the authorities informing them of three nuclear bombs he’s planted around America.  The FBI’s Counter-Terrorist Unit gets involved, as does an irritable, mysterious man known as “H.”, played by Samuel L. Jackson.  The rest of the cast is rounded out by comfortably familiar faces Michael Sheen, Carrie-Anne Moss and Gil Bellows.

Sadly enough, just as it starts getting us really interested, the movie begins showing signs of self-doubt.  H. turns out to be another trademark Samuel L. Jackson character – so trademark, in fact, that he actually looks bored doing it.  As much as I like Carrie-Anne Moss, her role could have gone to just about anybody else and it wouldn’t have made much difference.  The support cast is, fairly enough, as dependable as they’re needed to be, but the only truly pleasing acting of this movie belongs solely to Michael Sheen as the would-be terrorist.

The writers and production team seemed to have a lot to say – so much to say, in fact, that it’s apparent throughout the movie that they themselves can’t decide what their stand on torture and terrorism is.  They expose vulnerability to a character in one scene, then revoke it almost immediately in the next.  Plot points don’t move as smoothly as we need them to sometimes, leaving viewers confused at points about why what’s happening is happening.  We disregard them though, foolishly, cos we just wanna get on with the story and see if our understanding of the characters has been on track.

Ultimately, in the final quarter of the movie, when the actors and directors have finally agreed on where they’re going with this, we start seeing things their way; agreeing with H. and willing everyone else to shut up and let him do his job.  An alternative ending scene proves him right, but by then, like many things about this movie, it’s too late.

Director:  Gregor Jordan
Producers:  Marco Weber & Caldecot Chubb
Screenwriters:  Oren Moverman & Peter Woodward
Starring:  Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Sheen, Carrie-Anne Moss, Brandon Routh, Gil Bellows, Martin Donovan, Stephen Root

Rating: 

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