Thursday, September 23, 2010


Unthinkable is not a great movie, but you have to give it some credit for tackling tough questions in a suspenseful way without using a moral club or preaching at us.  Fans of Jack Bauer in 24 will recognize the dilemmas here, and anyone who has an interest in the U.S. military's treatment of "enemy combatants" will be on familiar ground.

The U.S. has a credible threat of the detonation of nuclear bombs in several locations.  The intelligence backs up the assertion, and a suspect is rounded up.  H (Samuel L. Jackson) is called in to help with the interrogation.  H battles the suspect, but the more intense battle is with Agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Ann Moss) who questions H's tactics and torture.  Together they deal with the question, is torture of one man justified if you can save the lives of others?  Is it permissible to do the unthinkable to one man (and maybe his family) if it means saving the lives of millions?  H turns out to be smarter and more restrained than you might think, and Brody's firm ethical foundation is shaken during the day.

This is a smart thriller, with some unexpected twists, and an ending that does not spoon feed the "right or wrong" answer to the viewer.  Production-wise, its quality was like a TV show, not as good as 24, in my opinion.  But the story and message was more nuanced than Jack Bauer's exploits.

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars. 

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