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Act Of Vengeance (2012)
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
No reasons given
Danny Glover, Gina Gershon, Robert Patrick, Haluk Bilginer
After an unsuccessful and bloody raid in Istanbul, two Turkish anti-terrorist agents are sent to New York City on a mission to capture a notorious terrorist known only as, “Dejjal” (Arabic for Anti-Christ). Working with the FBI and NYPD, the agents orchestrate the arrest of a suspect who may or not be the notorious Dejjal, but when events escalate, the foreign agents must take things in their own hands to avert disaster.
Act Of Vengeance (2012) | Review
A Turkish Thriller With A Message
The cover art for the American Blu-ray release tells nothing about the actual film contained within the box. Act Of Vengeance is a wildly erratic religious thriller set against the post-9/11 backdrop of the international war against terror. Haci (Haluk Bilginer) is the central figure of the film, an older Muslim leader who may or may not be a veiled jihadist general hiding right inside New York City. There are also two Turkish policemen who act as the heroes of our tale. Essentially, Haci is arrested on terrorism charges and his people successfully spring him from captivity. Our two special agents must track him down, and once they find him, they have to figure out what to do with him (bring him back to Turkey, or turn him in to American forces).
In order to discuss the film's spirituality in depth, I'll go into spoilers in the next paragraph. But if you only read this far, I'll simply recommend skipping this film for any number of better action movies or thrillers that deal with post-9/11 themes. The only bonus of Act of Vengeance is that it stars (presumably) Muslim actors who are given a chance to anchor the film and really shine as the stars, as opposed to just playing a generic Muslim bad guy role in a US film.
What ultimately becomes obvious in the film is that Haci is not only not a terrorist, but he might actually be the best human being ever. He is a peaceful and faithful Muslim and family man who escaped Turkey as a young man after being framed for a murder that he did not commit. The film goes to extreme lengths to highlight the enlightened and progressive nature of Haci's faith. He is married to a Christian woman (Gina Gershon) and lovingly watches on as his daughter partakes in both a Christian and a Muslim wedding at one point during the film. Haci is extremely humble and audiences (as well as the characters in the film) will be forced to fall in love with him.
As a matter of fact, the "terrorist thriller" aspect of the film conveniently wraps up right around the end of act two and leaves viewers wondering what is left for the film to explore. Act of Vengeance goes from hardcore action in the opening act, to thriller in the second act, and then veers heavily into soap opera melodrama to close out act three. It is really a soap opera-level exploration of the heroicism of one faithful and trusting man following Allah. Haci is undoubtedly a loveable man and an unconventional hero if this were an action/thriller. But since the film is actually a melodrama wrapped in an action-filled package, I guess Haci isn't as surprising of a character after all.
Act of Vengeance scores some points for being an actual movie. By that I mean the shot composition, sound design, and production value are significant enough to raise the bar above made-for-TV work or lots of indie/no-budget action films. There are also some good performances thrown in, and I do really enjoy seeing Middle Eastern heroes anchoring a film and kicking butt in the process. But I can't go so far as to say Act of Vengeance is a good film. It has an earnest heart, but the script puts its actors through a wildly erratic adventure which shifts in tone repeatedly. By the end the weight of Haci's witness as a good and faithful Muslim is sidelined by the after school special-ness of the drama that has occurred.
This Blu-ray has absolutely no bonus features whatsoever. It looks pretty good but behind the quality of the image lies a fairly broken narrative.
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