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Stunning acting: controversial subject...
on 31 May 2014
Unthinkable features two such rippingly blistering performances from the male antagonists, centred around one of the dirty open secrets of the modern era, that it's easy to forgive the nonsensical plot devices which exist only to bring the trio of leads together in intimate, appalling confrontation.
Samuel L and Michael Sheen are so convincingly committed, so determined in the righteousness of their causes and of success at any cost, that we could barely glance away from the screen for the whole running time. Carrie-Ann Moss has a harder job, portraying as she does the only person with a scrap of decency. Inevitably, gender stereotypes assert themselves as she plays the role of intermediate, of peace-maker; seeking a compromise to save millions from nuclear annihilation... and to save one man's family from brutal torture.
The themes in Unthinkable are far from new - and have been covered in recent years with more subtlety in, say, Rendition, where we never knew if the brutalised suspect was guilty of anything or not. Here, there is a clear and verified threat (although it may be a hoax, who knows?), and the interrogation team becomes increasingly desperate to prevent the deaths of many. In so doing, some of them seem willing to dispense with the very moral code they claim to be fighting to uphold. And on that sticky situation rests a couple of hours of virtuoso acting - and not a little blood-soaked violence.
When 53 Americans are killed, in the film, it's a national disaster. When American drones / forces kill 53 foreign civilians in actions overseas, it's called collateral damage.
Gripping and difficult, Unthinkable crams all of this into the tight confines of what feels like a stage play - one based around an interrogation cell where the worst things in the world happen. Afterwards, elements of the plot make scant sense, but while you're caught up in the moment it is compelling stuff.