Rendition

Inciting Event: After a Muslim terrorist group unintentionally kills a CIA operative in a suicide bombing, Egyptian immigrant Anwar comes under suspicion and is covertly arrested by the CIA upon returning to Washington, DC, from a conference in South Africa.

First Plot Point: Anwar is extradited to Africa where he will be held and interrogated. Meanwhile, his frantic wife tries to discover what happened to him.

First Pinch Point: Anwar is interrogated by Abasi, while newly promoted CIA agent Douglas watches. Anwar is stripped naked, slapped around, and finally put in a tiny cell called “the hole.”

Midpoint: Abasi uses waterboarding to try to force information from Anwar. Douglas grows uncomfortable with the torture and asks to speak with Anwar himself. This is where he comes to the personal realization that Anwar is innocent—which makes him increasingly opposed to Abasi’s methods of torture.

Second Pinch Point: In Washington, a senator’s aide who is a friend of Anwar’s wife confronts the CIA director about Anwar’s imprisonment. She refuses to play ball, and the senator decides he can’t afford to back the aide in this. This isn’t a superb Second Pinch Point, for the simple reason that, even though it emphasizes the antagonist’s power, it does nothing to turn the plot. Anwar is still in exactly the same place he was in prior to this scene.

Third Plot Point: After being electrocuted, Anwar tells Abasi and Douglas he was in contact with a terrorist. He gives them a list of names. Douglas is immediately suspicious of Anwar’s information and follows through to discover that Anwar was lying. Although this is a startling turning point, it isn’t a great Third Plot Point. In a movie as dark as this one, the Third Plot Point should plunge deeper still into that darkness, instead of being a victory for the main character.

Climax: Now convinced of Anwar’s innocence, Douglas decides to free him of his own volition. He sneaks Anwar out of the prison.

Climactic Moment: Anwar escapes on a fishing schooner.

Resolution: Anwar returns to his family.

Notes: This is a tremendously weighty story that fails to live up to its potential, primarily because it doesn’t hit most of its plot points hard enough. It also suffers from a lot of fragmentation, since its two subplot stories (about Abasi’s daughter’s relationship with a terrorist and Anwar’s wife back home trying to free him) have zero impact on the main plot.

As we can see from the plot points, this is a story about Anwar and Douglas. It’s a powerful story, but it’s never gets off the ground because it isn’t given enough emphasis and room to grow amidst the distractions of the counterpoint subplots.

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