Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

We'll buy 'desperate father,' but 'action hero' ain't gonna fly

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Inescapable is the work of a writer-director known primarily for her earthbound dramas. It's the bad luck of Montreal-born filmmaker Ruba Nadda (Cairo Time) that it opens opposite Skyfall.

The Bond movie was also directed by a filmmaker known for his real-world dramas (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road). Who would have guessed Sam Mendes could deliver such a slam-bang movie set against the world of international intrigue?

Nadda, not so much.

Of course, Inescapable is a film of much more intimate (read: low-budget) scale. Adib (Alexander Siddig of Nadda's Cairo Time and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is a Toronto executive who learns his young-adult daughter Muna has gone missing while touring the Middle East. In fact, she disappeared in Damascus, the very city Adib hails from. (This movie is set in early 2011, before the current rebel uprising.)

To retrieve his daughter, Adib has no choice but to return to Damascus. His contacts include the mysterious beauty Fatima (Marisa Tomei), who has the high-tension smoulder of a secret revolutionary, and Sayid (Oded Fehr), a former confederate of Adib's who now operates at the top of one of Syria's myriad secret police organizations. His primary contact is Paul (Joshua Jackson), a Canadian ambassador who may know more about Muna's disappearance than he lets on.

It emerges that Adib has placed himself in serious peril coming to Damascus, owing to a personal history that includes a teensy little accusation of past treason.

Never mind Skyfall -- the premise of the film actually places Nadda in the same realm as the Liam Neeson thriller Taken.

But because this is a Canadian production, the search resembles something that might actually take place in the real world. Adib can't tell his daughter's captors that he has a particular set of skills that make him a nightmare for people like them, because: a) he doesn't seem to possess that many skills; and b) he doesn't have anyone to threaten.

When Adib does spring into action, it's not very impressive action. You'll see more satisfying chase/fight scenes on episodic television.

Still, Nadda does capture a sense of the madness that comes in the international spaces where tyranny and bureaucracy intersect.

As he proved in Cairo Time, Siddig is a sympathetic hero, albeit one more capable of delivering the required emotional beats than he is capable of delivering roundhouse kicks and bullet hailstorms.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Inescapable

Starring Alexander Siddig and Marisa Tomei

Globe.

14A

93 minutes

2 out of five stars

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 D5

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