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Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Mauritanian 2021 * * Stars


The Mauritanian (my latest review) refers to a suspected 9/11 terrorist who spends over a decade in prison without ever being charged with a crime. Frenchman Tahar Rahim plays "Mauritanian's" lead in Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Rahim is not a bad actor by any means but his performance here feels a little off. He mugs and shrugs to the camera but there doesn't seem to be a lot of fear in his eyes.

So yeah, The Mauritanian as a movie feels a little off as well. It's capably directed, it's good to see Jodie Foster in something again, and some of "Mauritanian's" scenes crackle from time to time. But there's not a lot of drama and/or spectacle with The Mauritanian appearing like the film equivalent of a wiki page entry (the ending credits have the need to explain everything). Added to that, "Mauritanian" harbors a TV feel and its subject although unforgettable, comes off as aptly dated after twenty years.

Fashioning itself as a talky pic, directed by Scot Kevin Macdonald, and somewhat reeking of obviousness, The Mauritanian is about a man who was thought to be one of the chief engineers of tragic 9/11. While being imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, two defense lawyers jump through hoops to try to pursue his freedom. What 2013's Parkland is to Oliver Stone's JFK, The Mauritanian is to Midnight Express and The Hurricane. The latter films in that last sentence are for a better word, superior.

In retrospect, The Mauritanian goes through the motions with its chronological storytelling about as facile to follow as paint-by-numbers. Yeah "Mauritanian" is based on a true story but its tribute is a tad limp. If not for a few emotive moments courtesy of veteran actress Jodie Foster and some hallucinatory torture clips, the film would've never bothered to haphazardly take off.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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