INESCAPABLE

An elegant Canadian businessman who knots his tie just so turns out to have a hidden past. When his daughter suddenly goes missing, “Adib” (Alexander Siddig) must beg an old lover (Marisa Tomei) to help him sneak back into Damascus in order to persuade a one-time colleague (Oded Fehr) to help rescue her. We have loved Siddig since his Deep Space Nine days, but this film is a total disaster. Click HERE to read our FF2 Haiku.

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Way back when in the early-90s, I fell in love with an actor named Alexander Siddig. Cast as doctor “Julian Bashir” on Deep Space Nine, Siddig was so good (especially in his amorous interactions with Nana Visitor’s “Major Kira”) that I became a devoted Star Trek fan. I reached back to pick up episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (which I had missed on its initial run) and I was fully ready when Star Trek: Voyager took to the skies. But Deep Space Nine was and still is my favorite member of the Star Trek franchise.

Beyond Omar Sharif (so memorable in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago way back in the 60s), very few Arab actors have been seen playing heroic roles on the big screen, so when Siddig turned up as “Prince Nasir Al-Subaai” in Syriana, I cheered. He didn’t have a big part in a story that was dominated by George Clooney and Matt Damon, but he carried himself with tremendous dignity and stature. I saw him again in Miral (which I liked a lot) and then Cairo Time (which I disliked intensely), and both times Siddig was wonderful in critical supporting roles.

So when I went to see Inescapable, I longed to see Siddig triumph in a well-earned lead role, and I was hoping that writer/director Ruba Nadda (who also made Cairo Time) would win me. Unfortunately, Inescapable is so weak in every way that I cannot recommend it (even on DVD/VOD).

Inescapable starts well enough. Siddig plays an elegant Canadian businessman named “Adib” who seems to have his whole life exactly as he wants it. Professionally accomplishished, Adib has a beautiful wife and two grown daughters. But this man who  knots his tie just so turns out to have a hidden past, and when his eldest daughter “Muna” (Jay Anstey) suddenly goes missing, Adib leaves the safety of Canada and returns to Syria to rescue her.

From this point on, Inescapable becomes more and more preposterous. I won’t bore you with details from a plot full of holes, I’ll just say that nothing and no one rings true. The supporting cast contains solid actors like Marisa Tomei (as a long-lost lover) and  Oded Fehr (as a long-lost comrade), but Nadda’s dialogue lands on the ear with a thud, and her action sequences are so poorly constructed that it comes increasingly hard to keep watching through to the inevitable “happy ending.”

The poor cinematic quality of Inescapable actually surprised me because for all my complaints about Cairo Time, it was beautifully acted and the cinematography was gorgeous. So I expected more from Nadda, but got less. It seems now that she was lucky to arrive in Egypt before the Arab Spring because Cairo Time certainly captures the feel of a unique place. On the other hand, the “Syrian” scenes in Inescapable were primarily filmed in South Africa, so there is no sense of being “in the real Syria” at all. And although this isn’t Nadda’s fault, the fact that Syria has now descended into civil war makes all the supposedly Syrian running and chasing even more difficult to believe; now it’s just a bad movie set somewhere as opposed to someplace specific.

Several wonderful films have come “from Canada” recently including Water (set in India), The Whistleblower (set in Bosnia), and War Witch (set in Central Africa). I give the Canadians credit for supporting the international vision of their immigrant filmmakers, and I hope that Ruba Nadda’s next film will succeed. But Inescapable is a disaster for Alexander Siddig’s career. At this point, he really needed a hit, but he got a flop.

Crossing the border into Syria…

Photo Credits: Fadia Nadda/IFC Films.

Click HERE to read my review of Cairo Time.

Click HERE to read my review of Miral.

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