Racism, terrorism, controversial societal conditions; these are all hot-button subjects and ones that get a lot of attention whether it be in the news, in social forums or in the movies. Since 9/11, these have become even more common, and while not every film that revolves around terrorism stakes its home in the 9/11 tragedy, it’s safe to say that they owe the attention they receive to the social consciousness every living person took home from that event.
A film like ‘The Attack’ had a great opportunity to answer some questions that many unrelated to the issues at hand may have about the social environment in the Middle East. With a strong core story that follows one man’s quest to uncover the truth about his wife’s involvement with a terrorist act, ‘The Attack’ sets us up for what promises to be a very informative and engaging thrill ride.
Sadly, the ball was dropped here.
For me, ‘The Attack’ suffers from too many unanswered questions and not enough clear character development. When we get to the big reveal, everything feels so anticlimactic that we are left just as inquisitive and confused as we were in the beginning, even if our main protagonist acts as if all questions are answered. It also fails at depicting a logical series of events, for the actions of the protagonist are never met with a reasonable end. In other words, there is no way that he would have survived his abrasive inquiry of such a quiet and secretive faction and yet, he walks away with his answers, unscathed. It makes very little sense, the way that this was mapped out, and it saddens me that the approach was more along the lines of a non-plausible Hollywood thriller as opposed to a direct and gritty look at real life scenarios. What makes this approach all the more disappointing is that the pacing and dynamics of the film are of a more relaxed drama, and so the film winds up being slow AND unrealistic and so it just kind of becomes boring.
I hate to sound all Debby Downer here, but the more I think of the this the more I’m baffled at how much potential was squandered here.
On a positive note, Ali Suliman is VERY good here. Despite having some pretty ridiculous character development, he handles the reality of his character’s grappling with his situation really well, and he sells it in its entirety.
Like I said, the core story is a really rich one. A successful man who is happily married finds himself questioning everything when his wife is not only killed in a terrorist bombing, but is being accused of being the terrorist herself. It had so much opportunity to really flesh out the inner madness that the husband was experiencing (which is does, to an extent) and then show the counterbalance of what that truth really represented, but it feels so underwhelming that all context is lost and the impact is pretty much nonexistent.
I give this a C-. I initially gave it a B-, but the more I think about this the more disappointed I become. This wasn't submitted for Oscar consideration in the Foreign Language category (I don't think it was eligible since it was released last year) but if it had been I would be considering it for predictions because it seems like the kind of allegedly important film that Oscar tends to fall for.