The Films of Gregor Jordan
Unthinkable (July 20/10)
Armed with a series of fantastic performances and an inherently compelling premise, Unthinkable generally manages to overcome its stagy atmosphere to become an entertaining and thought-provoking drama - with the film's biggest deficiency its surprising lack of tension during its first half. The storyline concerns a terrorist (Michael Sheen's Steven Arthur Younger) who threatens to detonate three nuclear bombs on American soil if his demands aren't met, which effectively sets into motion a pervasive search by the FBI and several other agencies - though, as becomes clear, Younger has already been captured and is being held in a secret location by the military. FBI agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss) arrives on the scene hoping to question the suspect, yet she is inevitably dismayed to discover that higher-ups have enlisted the services of a black-ops interrogator (Samuel L. Jackson's Henry Humphries) in the hopes of breaking Younger. Director Gregor Jordan, working from Peter Woodward's script, does an effective job of immediately capturing the viewer's interest, as the engrossing setup is heightened by the efforts of a uniformly impressive cast (which, in addition to the film's stars, boasts strong work from Stephen Root, Brandon Routh, and Martin Donovan). It's subsequently worth noting that the curious lack of tension within the movie's early stages is not quite as problematic as one might've anticipated, with the transformation from watchable drama to taut thriller triggered by Humphries' decision to do the "unthinkable" (as well as by the ticking-clock atmosphere that becomes increasingly prevalent as Younger's deadline approaches). The annoyingly vague conclusion dampens the effectiveness of the film's otherwise tense third act, which is a shame, really, given the relative strength of everything preceding it (and this includes the surprisingly unsanctimonious bent of Woodward's screenplay).