Slow going

Most directors do not go so far as to make a film to reflect a current day issue.

Those complaints come from actors and musicians, who constantly shove their wrongly glorified opinion in our faces like they are some type of experts. Gavin Hood, however, tackles the issue of rendition with his latest, “Rendition.” The film features an all star cast, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, and Alan Arkin.

When a terrorist organization bombs a town square in Egypt, the CIA is quick to blame an Egyptian immigrant in the United States, Anwar El-Ibrahimi. On his way back from South Africa, he is snatched by the CIA and eventually held captive in a secret prison. Gyllenhaal plays Douglas Freeman, an agent involved in the brutal interrogation of El-Ibrahimi. Meanwhile, El-Ibrahimi’s wife Isabella (Witherspoon) uses the help of Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), an aide to a senator, to pester CIA’s head of terrorism, Corrine Whitman (Streep).

While the story itself is highly interesting, there just isn’t enough to keep audiences 100 percent interested the whole way through. That lies mostly in how the story is laid out. It creeps along very slowly and never picks up. When it seems like it wants to build intensity, it stops just shy of it. Not that it should jolt into some high-impact film; it’s not an action movie, after all. Still, it moves far too slow and may have you looking to your watch at some points. To keep you from shifting while you check your watch, there are a few well-done humorous moments here and there.

In addition to its pacing problems, the acting fails to show off the best from any of these actors. With names such as Streep, Arkin and J.K. Simmons involved in the project, it’s surprising to see such mediocrity. Witherspoon portrays her role well, but there simply isn’t enough zest to it.

The worst by far comes surprisingly from Gyllenhaal. Over the span of his career, he has amazed many with his diversity. But here, he seems like he doesn’t want to be involved with anything going on. His actions are also a bit too shifty and he seems out of place.

It is actually quite surprising to see how bland “Rendition” ended up being in the end. With the cast it has, one would think only good things can come from it. Unfortunately, that is not what audiences are given.

2 out of 4 stars