"Inescapable" is at best a half-baked thriller. Now, if only it had been a fully baked thriller, we could have gotten some fun out of the whole thing. As it is, there are some nice moments, especially the opening lock picking scene, and fine shots but not much beyond that. On the minus side, there is almost a running joke out of quickly obtained visas and characters here tend to get rescued not out of their own resourcefulness but out of somebody showing out of the blue. You need more than that level of potential watchfulness and a few mentions to fully document pre-civil war Syria as a police state which does not exactly come as a surprise. What is desperately needed in the movie is a broader perspective not only on the country but on Adib, along with more dramatic depth.
Saw this movie at its world premiere at TIFF 2012 and I must say I was disappointed. Firstly, there is no particular reason why this movie was not filmed entirely in Arabic other than probably achieving the mass appeal it will unlikely achieve. Having one of the best actresses of our time, Marisa Tomei, play an Arab and sport an accent when probably an English speaking Arab actress could have done the same job still bewilders me. Although to be completely frank, I must say she passes well as a Syrian. Secondly, the movie does not break any ground nor does it make wise use of its Middle Eastern setting especially in light of what has been happening in that part of the world since early 2011.
The plot centers on Syrian expat Adib Abdel Kareem (Alexander Siddig) who has made a life and family for himself in Toronto. He learns that his oldest daughter traveled to the Syrian capital to try to learn more of her father's ambiguous origins and is now missing. Thus, he decides to return to his home country for the first time in nearly 20 years enlisting the help of his former lover Fatima (Marisa Tomei). As his search starts, he encounters a Canadian embassy official (Joshua Jackson) and a childhood friend who is now a prominent police/army official and who seems to share a big secret with him (Oded Fehr).
"Inescapable" could have played out as a great mystery but unfortunately it does not. The way "secrets" are revealed is underwhelming and predictable with many questions unanswered. As an action movie, it falls particularly flat. [The movie may draw comparisons to "Taken" but definitely the 2008 hit shines in comparison, although I must say I didn't feel that this movie was emulating it]. Writer-director Ruba Nadda ("Cairo Time) also fails in making this a pure emotional ride by focusing on father-daughter dynamics. The main saving grace is uniformly good acting particularly Tomei (in some moments) despite the above-mentioned concerns. "Inescapable" is a passable, forgettable piece of entertainment of a man searching for his daughter that at 90 minutes kills the time.