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2012 | 93 min | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 22 February, 2013

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Screenshots from Inescapable Blu-ray

Inescapable Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, February 22, 2013

Why should Liam Neeson have all the fun? “Inescapable” is a rather brazen attempt to rework the “Taken” formula with a different lead actor, asking Alexander Siddig to suit up as a raging father on the hunt for his missing daughter. While the feature has a fiery attitude and Siddig’s full commitment, it’s also painfully clunky, clearly unprepared for the challenge of a revenge film. Although politically aware and careful with its handling of pre-war Syria, “Inescapable” doesn’t have the juice normally associated with such violent entertainment. Its interest in characterization is admirable, but there’s little firepower where it counts the most.

A humble bank employee raising children in Toronto, Adib (Alexander Siddig) is shocked to learn that his eldest daughter, a photographer working in Greece, has traveled to Syria to investigate her father’s shadowy past, soon kidnapped by unknown criminals. Returning to his former homeland after a two-decade absence, Adib is forced to revive his past as a Syrian intelligence officer, using his skills to cross borders and enter buildings without notice. Reconnecting with former fiancée Fatima (Marisa Tomei), Adib also encounters friend Sayid (Oded Fehr), hoping the military man will be able to pinpoint who’s behind the kidnapping. Hit with a rush of memories, Adib is confronted with his controversial history, while dealing with the pain he caused others after his sudden exit 20 years earlier. Finding assistance from Canadian embassy employee Paul (Joshua Jackson), the pair work their way to answers, only to find Halim (Saad Siddiqui), an enforcer demanding incriminating photographs, preventing them from retrieving the girl.

Writer/director Ruba Nadda isn’t known for the hard stuff. She’s more of a reflective filmmaker, helming 2009’s “Cairo Time,” a sensitive love story that also starred Siddig. Forming a fist, Nadda struggles to set a suspenseful tone with “Inescapable,” and even armed with proven formula in the kidnapping premise, she keeps the effort frustratingly slack. Of course, “Inescapable” isn’t your average thrill ride, taking a specific cultural approach with its Syrian setting, increasing Adib’s agitation with sequences involving checkpoints and threatening military officials, while returning him to the scene of his initially undefined misery -- a history of violence that his daughter was desperate to understand. There’s also a twinge of romantic grief, with Adib and Fatima reuniting after their love affair with brutally cut short, causing great discomfort between the pair that confuses the father’s mission. Nadda has the goods to shape a passable stab at Middle East paranoia and suffocation, and her dedication to character is welcome. There’s simply no spark to “Inescapable” from any source of conflict, keeping the picture more fatigued than frantic.

Holding the picture together is Siddig, who’s outstandingly commanding as Adib. Stomping around the film like a human cannonball, the actor is winningly authoritative, credible as a parent who will stop at nothing to return his daughter to safety. Siddig is the gas that fuels “Inescapable” through numerous dead spots and meandering scenes of reflection, acting as cheerleader for the likes of Jackson, who comes off confused over how he ended up in a movie like this. And if Tomei’s casting as a Damascus native sounds bizarre, it’s really nothing to worry about. Accent issues aside, Tomei is a nice fit for the feature, bringing a welcome feminine energy of heartbreak to an otherwise stoic effort.

Once “Inescapable” turns up the fisticuffs and shootouts, it’s clear Nadda doesn’t have any experience with screen violence. Certain aggressive encounters resemble filmed rehearsals, not slick action beats. Siddig does his damndest to sell the intensity of the moment, yet it doesn’t quite cover the inherent stiffness of the set pieces. When it comes to brutality, Nadda bites off more than she can chew.

“Inescapable” is a diet soda version of “Taken,” trying to make up for a lack of brawn by investing in the crippling pain of memories as one life is quickly transformed into another. However, a slight twist on the norm isn’t enough to keep the effort alert, holding “Inescapable” down to a distant battle cry.

Starring: Alexander Siddig, Joshua Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Oded Fehr
Director: Ruba Nadda

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