This was never released in North American, and I think the reason was apparent after you have seen it. Per IMDb, the budget was $20 millions, and for North America it went straight to DVD.
You will be strapped in your chair I guarantee you, either out of disbelief or in solidarity with the “victim” who is being tortured. Although I haven’t seen Zero Dark Thirty (2012) depicted tortures, I am surprised that no one talks about this made-in-America film released two years ago. This film put us all in a straitjacket, and spin us so hard so dizzy that we no longer know what is right and how it is wrong, or who are they? CIA? Army? NSA?
Another reason you will glue to this as I did is the actors! Wow, immediately you get attention from Carrie-Anne Moss (Agent Helen Brody), a senior investigator, cool, smart, composed, cracking down on terrorist cells in America. Then, Samuel L. Jackson (Henry Harold ‘H’ Humphries) takes hostage of couple of FBI agents, and CIA calls FBI to keep their hands off “H”, while Brody asks to know who the f*** he is, composed and calm. Her superior Assistant Director Jack Saunders (Martin Donovan) tells her that she is now in charge of the special op, when Steven Arthur Younger (Michael Sheen) face is plastered on all TV channels…
At the special facility run by US Army, H’s role is finally clarified, and everyone is clear on how to cover their behinds, and under who and what jurisdiction, and laws…. the torture begins so that Steven, an American soldier with real name Yusef, will disclose the locations of three nuclear bombs depict in his self-made video that the army has. At that moment, I knew I would be watching a version of Hostel (2005) that was not fictional, nor pornographic, but as real as those we have read about in CIA secret documents.
Right away, Yusef’s little finger is axed off…All the while, Helen is counting how many rights have been violated and how she will be a witness to future trials and congressional hearings when Yusef is released, but before that she must get those locations, and she knows she must endure this until then.
I think the comic relief, but still tense, is when the army and FBI are on one of those probable sites where the bomb is located. It is subtle dogs fight between the two agencies, and guess which side did a stupid thing causing a shopping mall to blowup? Someone is making a statement there, perhaps?
There is a surprise moment when the film is close to its end. You will gasp! Just as everyone does in the isolated interrogation room. WTF! Seriously… how does one spin this one out and into oblivion? I didn’t see this, did you? No, me neither… Same here!
I am telling you no moments is spare. If you on the moral side, you want everything to be stopped immediately, if you on the patriotic team, you want those locations at all cost to avoid a holocaust, I mean there are three ticking nuclear bombs in three major cities! One human for millions lives or millions lives for one? and that’s the question! the question is here and alive, unfortunately.
Lastly, character H is a proxy to break us down, and Brody is the compass to ask us when and where to draw the line? It is also a reflection of time that women have become part of this dialogue, cause otherwise, we could easy anticipated how it would have gone down if this happened in an all male environment under the same situation, i.e., CYA! This balance between H and Brody is another reason why this is so intense.
Michael Sheen is an impressive actor! In one film he is the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair in The Queen (2006), then he is Lucian in Underworld: Evolution (2006), Paul in Midnight in Paris (2011)…remarkable. In other words, in the film, he takes us the “I share your pains, bro” to the extreme level.
Seriously, at least one of those three deserves some sort of award for their performance.
Note: two years have passed since I wrote this, and after many films, books, and news on the subject, a few things came to mind but still yet to be resolved in US:
1. Who is really in charge for terrorists in US? FBI, NSA, … CIA, Army…
2. Humane torture vs. thousands or millions civilian deaths
3. Become a terrorist to fight terrorism? get into the mind of the killers.
4. Power struggle: Jurisprudence vs. Military warfare on terrorism.