Mixed or average reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 100
    Rendition is valuable and rare. As I wrote from Toronto: "It is a movie about the theory and practice of two things: torture and personal responsibility. And it is wise about what is right, and what is wrong."
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Taut, powerfully acted political thriller.
  3. There are some problems with the pacing, but this topical thriller about CIA-sanctioned torture is one of the most important "message" movies of the year.
  4. A maddening film, maddening in a good way, but maddening nonetheless.
  5. A rarity – a political film that delivers its timely message with a cinematic punch and no undue speechifying.
  6. About two-thirds of the way through, Rendition takes a bad turn and sells out most of what made it worth watching in the first place. Witherspoon is given little to do except look weepy, Freeman's change of heart is Q.E.D., and the radical Islamist subplot overwhelms the action, which becomes so confusingly structured that I thought the projectionist had misplaced a reel.
  7. 70
    Occasionally a movie's subject outweighs any aesthetic flaws, as it does in this unsettling thriller about the extraordinary rendition of terror suspects.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    While the ingredients are there to make a tense and compelling post-9/11 thriller, Rendition falls flat.
  9. The movie Rendition asks, admittedly in a one-sided way, whether the ends justify these means.
  10. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Disappointingly dull given the explosive subject matter, this at least attempts to get a message into the mainstream. An extra star for effort rather than execution.
  11. The jumping around is as deft as a hippo in a tutu, and the director, Gavin Hood, never finds a rhythm.
  12. Rendition offers few surprises, and it tips its hand too soon and too predictably to do much more than goose your weary outrage.
  13. Rendition certainly makes the case that torture, whatever name it goes under, is indefensible, yet one can agree with that view entirely and still feel that the movie is just a borderline exploitation of what anyone who reads the papers already knows.
  14. The movie is not exciting, original or instructive enough to justify the unpleasant experience.
  15. Rendition tackles the concern in a heavy-handed thriller with simplistic characters and manipulative story lines.
  16. 50
    What a cast, indeed. And what a bust as persuasive drama.
  17. In Rendition Gyllenhaal is supposed to be the smartest one in the room, yet he’s essentially just a good-looking plodder. And despite its whirligig story machinations, so is Rendition.
  18. 50
    None of the actors is able to do much with their characters, because they are all playing game pieces on a schematic board. Rendition has passion to spare, but it is saddled with a story designed exclusively to drive home the filmmakers' message.
  19. 50
    Rendition has the depth of a bumper sticker without the brevity.
  20. One reason to see Rendition is for Naor's stunning performance as the torturer who is the one character aware of the political and moral contradictions of what he's doing. Every time he was on screen, he commanded it.
  21. 50
    Rendition is a reminder that, in the wrong hands, political outrage can be a slog.
  22. 50
    The film's disappointingly black-and-white approach robs characters and situations of badly needed ambiguity.
  23. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    If it makes anybody feel better, one character in the picture does point out that the whole "extraordinary rendition" concept originated with Clinton. So there's balance for you.
  24. Intelligent and well-meaning, Rendition is nevertheless an oversimplified and uneven attempt to arouse righteous indignation among its viewers.
  25. 50
    If these new, allegedly topical movies are to make us feel anything -- to move us toward any action or even just toward any fresh realization -- they need to at least seem alive on the screen, instead of just courting our polite, measured applause.
  26. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Unlike Hood's far more persuasive gangster picture "Tsotsi," Rendition feels generic and lackluster.
  27. 50
    A well-meaning, honorable movie. Which is not to say that it is a very good one.
  28. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Manages to take an urgent, important topic and turn it into standard Hollywood melodrama. What a waste.
  29. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Forget the thin characters and showoffy temporal structure. Rendition's worst flaw is its political deck-stacking.
  30. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    By underplaying the melodrama in the presumed hope of seeming subtle when Kelley Sane’s script is so baldly melodramatic, the “Tsotsi” helmer drains the life out of an obviously explosive subject.
  31. 50
    Reese Witherspoon paces and cries through Rendition in a performance that does as much a disservice to her talent as the movie does to the issues it raises.
  32. 50
    With a cast this stacked, the performances are predictably strong (particularly from Sarsgaard, whose slow-burning role recalls his work in Shattered Glass), but the first impression they make is the same as the last.
  33. 42
    Overheated claptrap that takes an issue of vital national importance and turns it into an inept cartoon that emboldens the worst instincts in our national character.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 65 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 42
  2. Negative: 6 out of 42
  1. Sep 20, 2013
    It is a politically relevant movie that is all surface and no depth. Mildly entertaining. Weird casting choices and there was nothing flattering about the directional decisions. Full Review »
  2. Feb 22, 2013
    This is the story of the aftermath of a terrorist bombing. Rendition shows what happens behind the scenes of tragedy from six different sides and it's a pretty compelling story. I love how unique and eye opening this film is, however they really dumb it down for you. This should be the kind of movie that makes you think, but instead they kind of explain everything in detail to you from beginning to end. The film was very realistic and clear, that is until the ending. They took this intense, believable, behind the scenes film, and gave it an impossible ending which honestly wound up ruining the whole thing for me. Full Review »
  3. Nov 11, 2012
    Why did I watch it?
    I remember thinking that this film looked worth watching when it came out at the cinema. I was interested in the concept
    of extraordinary rendition and how it could happen. Anyway, five years later I finally got around to watching it.

    What's it all about?
    As the title suggests, its all about the controversial CIA practice of moving terror suspects to countries other than the US for interrogation purposes. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a CIA analyst caught up in the rendition of an Egyptian American chemical engineer (same profession as me!) Anwar to a North African country and the hands of the local police chief. At the same time Reese Witherspoon plays the suspects wife, desperately trying to track down her husbands whereabouts after he seemingly disappears during a flight home. Meryl Streep turns up as Gyllenhaal's boss.

    Should you watch it?
    Inevitably Rendition poses some questions about the justification of rendition and its breaching of human rights. The film doesn't really answer them either way, especially considering the ambiguous ending. If the screenplay was intending to make a specific point I think I missed it, although if it was being delivered by Gyllenhaal that is hardly surprising. His character is tepid, and that's being kind and seems pretty nonplussed with everything from the off so it was difficult to notice any change in his character after witnessing rendition first hand.
    At the other end, Witherspoon fares slightly better with her performance as the desperate wife. Screeching aside, it was beneficial to see the impact of rendition and difficulties in finding information from the point of view of the family.
    To give the screenplay some credit, the intertwining stories of the rendition and the local terrorist cell does create some tension which moves the film along.

    A fairly run of the mill political thriller with some intriguing plot-lines.
    Full Review »