In “Infidel,” Jim Caviezel performs Christian blogger Doug Rawlins, who travels to Cairo to take part in a televised convention on faith. The Muslim host seeks commonalities between the 2 faiths. “We love Jesus Christ,” the person says, after which Doug pauses for a second, weighing his phrases, earlier than rejecting the figurative olive department. “He’s God,” Doug And He desires to be your God.” The viewers (inside the movie, however certainly not the one watching it) is shocked at Doug’s audacity. Much less stunning to all events, Doug is kidnapped from his lodge room by offended Muslims a number of hours later.
The film really opens with Doug dealing with a firing squad on a Tehran rooftop, so we all know from the bounce that his Cairo go to didn’t go nicely. On the floor, “Infidel” seems to be an easy Center East-set thriller — the sort that reaffirm People’ xenophobic impulses, whereby Muslims fulfill the worst stereotypes and conventional music performed over dusty international cities is supposed to place viewers on edge. It options a number of respectable struggle scenes, explosions and chases (one involving a helicopter), plus some spectacular places work as Jordan doubles for a number of nations. However that’s all meant so as to add a veneer of shiny pleasure to a slightly simple Christian parable about standing up for what you consider in.
Coming from the mouth of the actor who performed Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Ardour of the Christ,” Doug’s “He’s God” declaration is supposed to signify conviction, not carelessness. However his spouse Liz (Claudia Karvan) acknowledges the chance when her husband turns his Cairo invitation into a chance to proselytize. A robust character in her personal proper, Liz works for the State Division, which places her in an honest place to assist rescue Doug from his captors when the time comes. Additionally attention-grabbing: She doesn’t share his religion, having deserted Christianity after a automotive accident claimed their unborn baby — an unnecessarily traumatic flashback inserted early in a movie struggling to appear to be greater than a straight-to-video faith-based thriller.
The conservative reply to such Center East-set movies as “Rendition” and “Syriana,” “Infidel” is without doubt one of the widest exclusive-to-theaters U.S. releases for the reason that pandemic closed most cinemas, reportedly opening on 2,400 screens in 1,724 places. Initially meant to open on 9/11, the movie takes a troublesome take a look at the that dimension of each Christianity and Islam that refuses to simply accept the opposite, and speculates as to which is best suited to “win” this standoff. It’s biased, in fact, and the film’s angle towards Muslim may very well be summarized as: We are going to respect your faith, to some extent, however the second you attempt to restrict our freedom, then all bets are off. Twice, we see Liz tear away her compulsory hijab whereas in Tehran, the primary time to exchange it with an American-style baseball cap, and later in an act of overt defiance, throwing the scarf to the bottom. Contemplating the demographic the movie targets, one can simply think about audiences doing the identical with their face masks on the megaplex.
Practically a decade in the past, writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh made a strong, if heavy-handed drama entitled “The Stoning of Soraya M.” wherein he sensationalized a barbaric facet of Iranian tradition. However stoning appears a slap on the wrist in comparison with the menace Doug faces in entrance of this firing squad: Repent, settle for Allah’s phrase, and he can be spared, guarantees Hezbollah kidnapper Ramzi (Hal Ozsan). It’s a prospect each bit as antithetical to Doug’s character because the stress placed on Jesuit monks to apostatize in Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” Solely, Scorsese was taking a serious-minded take a look at the results of Christian evangelism on unreceptive soil, whereas Doug’s dilemma serves to kick off a gung-ho motion film — one which brings Western justice to a heathen nation, the place Christians should follow undercover.
Nonetheless, “Infidel” isn’t as anti-Islam as it could sound. American-born Nowrasteh is himself of Iranian descent, teaming right here with sensationalist producer Dinesh D’Souza (whose partisan documentaries purpose to demonize such progressive heroes as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore) to make a movie that’s overtly crucial of the nation’s extra absolutist views. However the filmmaker proves himself to be delicate to the biases and abuse Islamic folks face in the USA.
Early within the movie, Doug and Liz attend a celebration hosted by their Iranian pal Javin (Aly Kassem), whose house is raided by police. Javin, we be taught even earlier than Doug does, is a radical potential terrorist who disowns his Western-minded daughter, and but, the film’s nuanced sufficient to attract a parallel between the way in which these two characters are handled in each other’s nations. “We’re not afraid to die. That’s why we’re going to win,” ready-for-martyrdom Ramzi (who’s simply the movie’s most charismatic character) tells Doug, who responds, “I’m not afraid both.”
Such non secular conviction is uncommon in movie characters, but it surely’s handled right here as admirably as James Bond refusing to spill state secrets and techniques below torture. Doug’s captors transport him to part 209 of Tehran’s infamous Evin jail, the place dissidents are housed. Though Caviezel’s character is supposed to face in for all People unjustly imprisoned by Iran, it will be irresponsible to take the movie’s “impressed by true occasions” declare too significantly. That doesn’t imply it’s not satisfying to observe Liz and a number of other co-conspirators raid the ability in an try to liberate Doug and all these unjustly detained political prisoners. On this fantasy telling, not less than, God is on his aspect.