THIS REVIEW is brought to you by KATHY KAISER @matineechat.com
THE MAURITANIAN – RATED R – 2 HRS. 9 MINS – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
DIRECTOR: Kevin Macdonald
WRITERS: Michael Bronner, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
STARRING: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Shailene Woodley
Venturing back to the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, STX Films and Director Kevin Macdonald take us deep into the real-life story of Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohanedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim), who months after the attack of 9/11, was summoned from his home in Mauritania by US Forces, taken into custody, eventually becoming one of the over 700 detainees housed at Guantanamo, without proper cause.
Jump a few years into his imprisonment, and it seems Defense Attorney Nancy Hollander (played 2- time Oscar Winner Jodie Foster) and her assistant, Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) are hell bent on taking on the case to free him, as he’s been sitting in prison for 4 years now, without a trial in sight. As Nancy stirs up a fuss, trying to get to the bottom of why Shahi is still incarcirated with no case against him, it seems that the US Government has decided that it’s time to seek the death penalty for Slahi, bringing in Military Attorney Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch) as the Lead Prosecutor on the case.
As Hollander and Couch work both from either side of this case, trying to get to the truth as to what Shahi actually did to warrant his continued imprisonment, the world of what really is taking place at Guantanamo explodes for each of them within their research, causing them both to question, what’s really going on???
When Couch reaches the pinnacle of the truth about Shahi’s years of torture at the hands of his American captors, he can no longer stand by and look the other way. And when Hollander finally gets the information she’s been searching for from Shahi, and Couch too, it seems that the time to go to trial, is finally at hand.
With the odds stacked against him, Shahi has no choice but to share his truth in an attempt to hopefully return to his family, a free man, after 7 years in captivity. But, even as Shahi, Hollander and Duncan work to share his story with anyone who will listen, it seems that the US Government has very different plans for Shahi, and for many more years to come…
Painful and stomach wrenching at times to view, The Mauritanian doesn’t hold back in getting the point across that the US Government was going to make sure that many terrorists, besides Bin Laden, would pay for the nearly 3,000 lives lost on 9/11. And just like 2019’s The Report opened our eyes to what the Federal Government was doing in their post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation program, The Mauritanian takes it a few steps further, depicting the cruelty used to get the supposed “real story” from the terrorists held captive, or their accomplices, housed at Guantanamo.
But, as hard as this film was to view at times, sending my anxiety through the roof, the constantly moving storyline throughout, also gave way to this film for me, not really hitting the mark this material most definitely should have. I mean don’t get me wrong, Tahar Rahim gives an award worthy performance throughout, already garnering him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, and I’m sure when Oscar comes calling soon, he will be receive a nod for his exceptional performance in this film too, as he is absolutely riveting in this role, at every turn, from start to finish. On the other hand, I don’t agree with Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe nod for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture, as I felt that her performance was only slightly moving at times, and not of the caliber of the many performances I have enjoyed from her before. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance, although intriguing to hear him use an almost perfect southern accent the whole way through, was also not to the caliber of any of his previous performances on screen either. And poor Shailene Woodley wasn’t really given enough material, or screen time to even attempt to leave her mark across the screen either, leaving me to take away that even with the fabulous performance by Rahim, and the gut-wrenching storyline throughout, I’m sad to say I think that THE MAURITARIAN misses becoming the incredible film that this storyline lends itself in becoming, and even with it taking aim at the Obama Administration in its last few frames too, it still didn’t resonate as a MUST SEE for me!
But if you’d like to catch THE MAURITANIAN at a theater near you, it is presently showing at Marcus Ronnie’s Cine, AMC Creve Coeur 12 and at Marcus Chesterfield Cinemas.