The Reluctant Fundamentalist


Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 28
  2. Negative: 3 out of 28
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  1. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    May 9, 2013
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist will likely make some people mad because of the way it holds the United States responsible for the repercussions of its actions in the world. Like Changez himself, the film has a complicated relationship with the superpower.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    May 2, 2013
    Deliberately ambiguous, The Reluctant Fundamentalist provides just enough answers while leaving us with more than enough questions. It's a film that demands discussion afterward.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 26, 2013
    Timeliness is certainly on the side of Mira Nair’s uneven but fascinating The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
  4. Reviewed by: Omer M. Mozaffar
    Jun 11, 2013
    Nair has made a very smart film, whose ambitions sometimes exceed the piece's depths.
  5. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Apr 25, 2013
    Nair likes to have fun even when her material is somber, and for this movie she deploys a rich palette and a multi-culti but mostly kitsch-free score that fuses old and new with a lovely Sufi devotional piece, and is peppered with Pakistani pop.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Apr 29, 2013
    Nair sleekly manages the story’s thriller aspects, especially the kidnapping. But this is a character study, and she has found some superb actors to fill it.
  7. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Apr 25, 2013
    The result inevitably pushes too hard at times and can't help but stray into melodrama, yet the film does an admirable job of transplanting the novel's thoughtful concerns into a fast-moving suspense context.
  8. Reviewed by: Jonathan Kiefer
    Apr 23, 2013
    At times it's dense and sluggish, too much like a novel. But there is some exhilaration to be had.
  9. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    May 9, 2013
    Since the revelation of Wall Street's culpability for the 2008 economic crisis, though, the arc of Changez's transformation feels almost clichéd, despite Ahmed's earnest, effective performance.
  10. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Apr 24, 2013
    This might be the best week for The Reluctant Fundamentalist to open or the worst, but the timing doesn’t matter when the powder is damp.
  11. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    May 9, 2013
    Despite the charismatic efforts of the British actor Ahmed, The Reluctant Fundamentalist gets bogged down in proselytizing and plot.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 9, 2013
    It’s a simple story, really, but Nair mucks it up with the hot-button suspense of the framing scenes: surging crowds and rooftop standoffs, panicky cellphone calls and crackling walkie-talkies.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jul 29, 2013
    I was a bit 'reluctant' to watch this movie as I was aware that the plot had been expanded into a thriller, but I was pleasantly surprised.I was a bit 'reluctant' to watch this movie as I was aware that the plot had been expanded into a thriller, but I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of feeling let down every time there was a change from the novel, I found myself growing in anticipation as the series of events set in motion following the kidnapping of the American professor unfolded. Riz Ahmed turns out a stellar performance as the protagonist. Full Review »
  2. Jun 10, 2013
    A young Pakistani man (Riz Ahmed) comes to college in the US and stays to become a successful financial analyst. Events after 9/11 complicateA young Pakistani man (Riz Ahmed) comes to college in the US and stays to become a successful financial analyst. Events after 9/11 complicate his allegiance to both countries, while a hostage crisis back home provides the fulcrum between his past and the present political strife. There are some names in the cast (Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber), but it's Ahmed's charisma and complex performance that makes this film so effective. It also helps that an accomplished director (Mira Nair) is at the helm. She has crafted a quietly suspenseful and completely involving political drama. Full Review »
  3. May 16, 2013
    “I love America,” says Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), the conflicted hero of Mira Nair’s outsider love story The Reluctant Fundamentalist. But does“I love America,” says Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), the conflicted hero of Mira Nair’s outsider love story The Reluctant Fundamentalist. But does he really? Changez whose very name encloses the many layers of irony that the movie peels back with the greedy appetite of a thirsty man eating an orange is a Muslim from Pakistan who embraces capitalism, then learns that it may not have room for “the other” in its black, acquisitive heart. Changez himself isn’t that much of a bargain either, although as played by Ahmed, a British actor and rap artist, he is appealing enough that we root for him even as he enacts the Punjab version of Wall Street. The son of a famous poet (a delicate cameo by Om Puri) whose fortunes are fading into the crude melting pot of callous capitalism that becomes another of the film’s symbols, Changez goes to the U.S. to attend Princeton University and make his fortune. He emerges as a clean-cut Ivy League go-getter who talks his way into a job with a Wall Street company run by Jim Cross, one of those smooth corporate tough guys whose bottom line is the bottom line. Cross is played with sly urbanity by Kiefer Sutherland, who brings to the table another unstated piece of cultural baggage he was the anti-terrorist fighter in 24, after all that at times threatens to sink The Reluctant Fundamentalist under the weight of its own metaphors. The movie is told in flashback: Changez, now a bearded professor in Lahore, is being questioned by Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber, properly grizzled and sporting a name that could probably get him elected president), a journalist doing a story on the recent kidnapping of an American professor. Sutherland and Puri steal the show, with gritty and hooking performances. Changez may or may not be involved, just as Lincoln may or may not be more than he seems: The Reluctant Fundamentalist operates on several levels, all of them called out like elevator stops by director Mira Nair, whose experience in these cross-cultural environments (The Perez Family, Mississippi Marsala) can’t stop her from underlining every paradox. He turns out to be very good at this task; Jim, his boss, supposes it’s because he’s an outsider, although this thread is left unexamined in the film. He also finds love in the person of Erica (Kate Hudson, a little chunkier than we remember but looking good as a brunette), an artist mourning a dead lover. Chavez becomes both a replacement and an exotic accessory, “the ultimate downtown status symbol,” he later realizes. Erica, of course, is just “America” without one syllable. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is structured around the defining incident of our times. In New York after 9/11, Changez finds himself on the outside of society despite his capitalist credentials. Nair presents some nicely underplayed scenes Changez being searched at an airport in a silent humiliation, for instance that help us read his new look of confusion. It’s all structured like a thriller, with a group of American intelligence forces about to pounce on Changez, but this is a superfluous bit of plot-making; The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a small personal story, based on a novel by Mohsin Hamid, that has been inflated into an unwieldy epic. It’s a brave one, though, that dares to look through unfamiliar eyes at what we thought we knew about religious fundamentalists and capitalist fundamentals. Just as the Twin Towers attack make Americans more American, so they make him more Pakistani, and in response he grows a beard and begins to question his true identity. “It makes me who I am,” he says. Just who that is becomes the film’s mystery. In a startling scene, Changez allows a smile of admiration to cross his face after the 9/11 attacks,. “David had struck Goliath,” he says, and it secretly thrills him even as it challenges us. Full Review »