MPI // 2012 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // July 3rd, 2013
You can't escape your past.
People reading a synopsis of Inescapable could easily think that they've seen this plot before in Taken, and they're basically right, at least on the surface. Of course, it's also the essential story of Not without My Daughter and, I'm sure, a fair number of other movies out there that I can't remember off hand. It would be unfortunate if that fact would keep people from watching a fine political thriller like this because, if writers couldn't recycle plotlines, we could only have one vampire movie or one zombie movie or one ghost movie, and I would never want to live in such a world.
Syrian-born Adib (Alexander Siddig, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) lives a happy life in Toronto with his wife and two daughters, but he has a mysterious past in his homeland that he never discusses. When his oldest daughter, a photojournalist, travels to Syria in search of information about her father, that past comes roaring back to bite him. She disappears and, though he left the country under threat of arrest, he must return and use his every last resource, including his former fiance, Fatima (Marisa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), to navigate the dangerous political waters to save her.
Ruba Natta (Cairo Time), director of almost exclusively romances up to this point in her career, has taken a successful first step into the world of thrillers with Inescapable. It builds slowly and concerns itself more with political intrigue than with action and gunplay, but she does a great job building tension through minor twists and clever dialog. The small bits of action the movie does have are more effective as a result and the measured progression of the story keeps it from being as exhausting as I often find more high-octane political action movies.
A Canadian of Syrian descent who spent a few years living in the country, Natta deftly describes the dangerous bureaucracy that Adib has to push through to find his daughter. With different levels of secret police roaming the streets, listening for any kind of dissent, Adib quickly finds himself running from multiple people at once. His actions before leaving Syria made him infamous and he's definitely not welcome back. The only one happy to see him is Fatima, though it's a bittersweet reunion and it's only out of past obligation that she puts her neck on the line for him.
Siddig does great work in portraying Adib's powerlessness and increasing determination. He's soft spoken, but it's easy to see both the troubled past and present desperation on his face. Though much of the character's motivation is based around his daughter, there is also a certain part of him that needs to exorcise the demons of his youth. He has tried to forget about all of it, but laying eyes on Fatima brings it all rushing back. It also leads him back to Sayid (Oded Fehr, The Mummy), his former best friend turned bureaucrat who greets him, but has his own secrets that will work against Adib's goals.
Fehr, in his small role, does almost as well as Siddig. Though he's transparently sinister, he has a charismatic way about him that works really nicely. All of the performances are good and the only misstep, really, is Marisa Tomei, who performs admirably, but just doesn't seem right for the part. Everything else about it is strong, from the cinematography to the locations (it was filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa, but serves as a believable Syria) to the sharp direction helps to make Inescapable a well-made thriller. It may not be groundbreaking or particularly special in any way, but it's a solid, very serviceable political thriller.
Inescapable arrive from MPI under the IFC Films label with a very solid Blu-ray release. The 2.40:1/1080p image looks fantastic, showing off the visual presentation brilliantly. The film is full of white and tan tones that look bright and sharp. Detail is crisp even in the darkest scenes and black levels are deep and inky. The sound is just as strong, with two tracks to choose from, a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track and a lossless 2.0 track. Both are excellent, with great clarity and definition, but the 5.1 track is definitely the one to use. It doesn't have a ton of spatial effects, but there's good ambience throughout the spectrum. Both have good clear dialog and music and are more than acceptable.
Supplements are strong, as well. The disc starts with an audio commentary featuring Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier. It's not the best track in the world; the pair is a little quiet and there is plenty of time where one wonders whether the track didn't switch over to the main audio, but when they do, it's valuable and interesting, especially in the discussion of how they transformed their Johannesburg locations to look like Damascus. I wish they were more active, but it's still worth a listen. A few deleted scenes show some added, unnecessary parts, while the featurette brings us interviews with the cast and crew and a look at the production. The best feature is the thirty minute question and answer session with Nadda, Siddig, and Fehr. They take questions from both the moderator and the audience and it is, by far, the most valuable feature on the disc.
Its surface resemblance to Taken may give some people the impression that it's a rehash, but Inescapable is a very different film that has plenty of merit on its own. The performances are excellent, and the story has just enough tension to make an efficient, effective thriller. A strong effort from Nadda in her first foray into the genre, one that I feel comfortable recommending to most audiences.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes