Movie review

1 (out of five stars)

Director: Ruba Nadda

Cast: Alexander Siddig, Joshua Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Bonnie Lee Bouman, Oded Fehr

Rated: Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

‘Inescapable” is like “Taken” without the tension.

Another daughter has gone missing, this time in Damascus, Syria. Her father, Adib Abdel Kareem (Alexander Siddig), is a former spy. About the only difference between “Inescapable” and the popular Liam Neeson action thriller is that the kidnapping is driven by retribution rather than chance, well, that and a long string of dramatic, and fatal, flaws.

It’s a disappointing third film for Canadian writer-director Ruba Nadda. One hopes “Inescapable” is only a momentary stumble for this promising filmmaker.

Even its star, the wonderful Siddig seems uncharacteristically unsettled; at times overwrought, as you might expect a father in his situation to be, at times unexplainably lethargic.

The film begins in Toronto where Kareem and his family now live. The younger daughter is around college age; the one that’s gone missing is Emily (Bonnie Lee Bouman), a photographer who has been shooting her way across Europe until she detours to Damascus to look into dad’s secretive past.

A slightly agitated man turns up at Kareem’s office bearing bad tidings. From their brief exchange, it seems dad had him shadowing Emily but apparently didn’t make it clear that if something happened, he should be told right away. By the time Kareem hears of the kidnapping, it’s been six days.

Without telling his wife their child is missing, Kareem heads for Syria and back into the world of spy-craft, reaching out to his former compatriots. It’s been 20 years or so.

First up is Fatima (Marisa Tomei). She was apparently Kareem’s onetime love as well as another operative. This very versatile actress is given little to do beyond become a reluctant sidekick, driving him around the city and occasionally breaking her silence long enough to spit out a few recriminations about leaving her behind.

Next is the nearly monosyllabic Saad (Oded Fehr) with the Syrian intelligence agency who has a chest-full of medals and no personality.

Finally, the father drops by the Canadian consulate where he meets with one of the higher-ups. Paul (Joshua Jackson) seems to know more about Emily’s whereabouts than he’s letting on.

There are a few clandestine meetings, mostly unexplained; a few run-ins with tough guys in suits. They have questions. No one has answers.

Meanwhile bits and pieces of Kareem’s spy days get tossed out like crumbs for pigeons, but serve only to frustrate rather than satiate.

“Inescapable” is almost unfathomable, with so little logic that you’re often left, like Fatima, screaming through gritted teeth, “But why?”