Sunday, June 04, 2006

The War Within: Grade B


The War Within

Unknown Pakistani actors, Director: Joseph Castelo

A Pakistani engineering student sneaks into the US and joins a terrorist cell planning multiple suicide bombs in NYC. The plot is somehow foiled and only two of them remain free. He finds an old friend and lives with that family in New Jersey while he regroups. The family catches him making bombs in the basement. “The mind of the terrorist” is an important story that needs to be told, but this doesn’t do it. The protagonist is a mystery man: silent, solemn, expressionless. He mouths some platitudes about jihad, but we don’t understand his motivation, except that in nightmares we learn that he was tortured by Western intelligence in Lahore and his brother was killed. So is he on a personal revenge mission because he can’t handle grief? That doesn’t seem right. He quotes from the Koran about doing “God’s will” but what is that? He never is tempted by evil western ways (alcohol and naked women). So what is his problem? He displays the numbness of severe depression, so maybe he needs a lithium treatment. Or maybe such terrorists are simply psychologically opaque to western understanding. A very watchable movie, with good photography, but it doesn’t teach us anything.

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