Thursday, December 9, 2021

Encounter - Movie Review

The Movie: Encounter

The Director: Michael Pearce

The Cast: Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Rory Cochrane, Janina Gavankar, Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada

The Story: Desperate to save his two young sons, Jay and Bobby, from a mysterious threat, decorated Marine Malik Khan packs them in a car and sets off on a perilous journey across the western U.S.

The Review:
Over the last few years, Riz Ahmed has become one of my favorite actors, I think beginning with his role as the pilot on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and more recently in Sound of Metal as a drummer who loses his hearing. When I found out about this movie, I was pretty excited to see what he could do with this type of material and with completely leading a feature film on his own as Malik Khan, an ex special forces soldier who was recently released from prison. Ultimately, it's a good thing Ahmed is in this movie because he is easily the best thing about it.

The movie starts off with a level of intensity that I was hoping would carry out through the entire picture as it gave the promise of a man on the run, against all odds thriller type vibe which was really cool. At least in the first act. After that, the pacing comes to a screeching halt and never regains its footing. Octavia Spencer is on board as Malik's parole officer and there was a lot of potential for her character to be a driving force of the story as well but she is mostly wasted with little to do other than provide bits of exposition to move the narrative forward.

While I enjoyed the movie to a certain point, I felt it was trying to be two different things while not ever dedicating itself to either of those things, I can't elaborate because spoilers, and the narrative suffers greatly from this. On one hand, it could have been a very insightful exploration of mental health, mental trauma, and PTSD if it really wanted to go there. It also could have been a high stakes science fiction thriller that had a lot of potential to provide something original to the genre although after ideas and concepts are introduced that angle fizzles out as well.

The Verdict:
Encounter counts on Riz Ahmed to be the driving force behind a story that never figures out where its going. While Ahmed is outstanding as usual, he easily outpaces a story that has more issues than what it's worth.

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