October 29, 2007 12:00 PM

Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, Peter Sarsgaard | R |

DRAMA

This topical drama feels like a watered-down Babel—with preachier babble. Employing a talented ensemble cast and overlapping story lines, Rendition follows a pregnant American (Witherspoon) whose Egyptian-born scientist husband (Omar Metwally) is, with covert U.S. government help, jailed overseas. There he is brutally interrogated about possible terrorist connections, a process overseen by a young CIA official (Gyllenhaal). The movie’s issues—under the practice of “rendition,” terror suspects are surreptitiously turned over by the U.S. to foreign allies who may use abusive methods to gain information—are real, but the characters illustrating them rarely rise above walking headlines.

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