Thursday, May 13, 2021

Profile (2021) - Movie Review

The Movie: Profile

The Director: Timur Bekmambetov

The Cast: Valene Kane, Shazad Latif, Christine Adams

The Story: An undercover British journalist infiltrates the online propaganda channels of the so-called Islamic State, only to be sucked in by her recruiter.

The Review:
I've been wanting to watch this movie from when it was first making the festival rounds so I was happy to see it finally getting a release thanks to Focus Features. The story is based on a real thing that happened as a reporter went about as deep undercover as a person would want to go when it comes to extremist organizations. Director Timur Bekmambetov has had a very interesting career to this point with some definite hits like Night Watch and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter although he has also been responsible for movies like the recent Ben-Hur remake so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

I suppose the fact that this movie is based off of real events would keep the director a bit more reigned in than some of the more outlandish storytelling he has put out there and I was actually really happy with the end result. If you hadn't figured it out yet, this movie is a computer screen POV film along the lines of Searching, or Host although it's more of a dramatic thriller than a horror movies like those movies. The majority of the story plays out over Skype calls with a lot of tab switching and internet searches mixed in although none of it ever gets confusing even if you're not fluent in the technologies being used.

Valene Kane, in the title role is pretty outstanding and maybe one of the best performances I have seen this year. I also just realized she played Lyra Erso in Rogue One, one of my all time favorite movies which doesn't mean much in relation to this movie, it's just a fun fact. Shazad Latif plays Bilal, the antagonist of the story in such a brilliant way that keeps you guessing about who he is and what his true intentions are. Both performances go so well together which is made even more impressive by the fact that they are never actually together in the movie, just on the screens.

While this isn't a horror movie there are a lot of scary things about it especially when it comes to the highly influential, misleading, and aggressive recruiting tactics used by extremist groups to where even someone who goes down the rabbit hole to investigate and root out details can get caught up in the tactics and falsehoods. The way Bekmambetov takes us on this journey is actually quite riveting in that edge of your seat, I can't wait to see what happens next because I'm totally invested type of way. If that makes sense.

This is also a very important movie in the context of human trafficking and all the different ways that it exists and all the different type of people it affects. We see how it easy it is for young women, or anyone really, to fall under the influence of a person or an idea with just a few suggestions and nudges in a certain direction. We see how powerful a person can be in influencing and manipulating other people and literally trapping them in a virtual web of lies and deception. This is real stuff that is happening every day and it's important that we understand how this type of stuff works and how it can be uncovered and prevented in the future.

The Verdict:
Profile delivers a virtually thrilling story that is pulled from a truly frightening reality. Director Timur Bekmambetov navigates and internet POV experience that is anchored by great performances from the cast.

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