"The War Within": Terrorism from different view
As the first American film to address terrorism from a Muslim terrorist's perspective, "The War Within" is praiseworthy for its frankness, but it's mostly a missed opportunity. With subject matter so potentially intense, it's a ho-hum thriller with a predictable outcome.
Deported from Paris to Karachi because his dead brother was a terrorist, mild-mannered Pakistani and law-abiding engineering student Hassan (played with repressed anxiety by co-writer Ayad Akhtar) is tortured over the course of three years in a "Midnight Express"-like detention center, where he's transformed into an embittered member of a radical Muslim terror cell.
He's smuggled to New York, where he stays in the home of upstanding friend and family man Sayeed (Firdous Bamji) while preparing a suicide bomb in the cellar. His target: Grand Central Station during rush hour.
"The War Within," with Ayad Akhtar, Firdous Bamji, Sarita Choudhury, Nandana Sen. Directed by Joseph Castelo, from a screenplay by Ayad Akhtar, Tom Glynn and Costelo. 100 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains mild profanity, brief violence, mature themes). Metro.
There's much to admire as director/co-writer Joseph Castelo examines the conflicting values and misguided fervor that clash under Sayeed's roof, but after a promising start, "The War Within" reverts to a moribund portrait of a man whose beliefs are never adequately dramatized.
"The War Within" is a slow-burning thriller that fails to probe the depths of its volatile subject matter.
— Jeff Shannon, Special to The Seattle Times
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company