In North Africa, a suicide bomber unleashes hell in a city square, and an American CIA agent is among those killed. Investigations make a link to an Egyptian-born chemical engineer, Anwar (Omar Metwally), who is on his way from a conference in Cape Town to his home and family in the USA. As he gets off the plane in Washington, he is seized by CIA agents and questioned, then bundled on to a plane to Morocco where he can lawfully be interrogated and tortured.
CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is assigned to observe, but becomes increasingly convinced that Anwar is innocent. Meanwhile, Anwar's pregnant American wife, Isabella (Reese Witherspoon, pictured), is left with no answers as to why her husband failed to arrive from Cape Town, and steely CIA boss Corrine Whitman (Meryl Streep) is denying all knowledge of the case.
The practice of "extraordinary rendition" is reportedly a genuine method of questioning suspects, introduced by the Clinton administration. This is the first big-budget, big-screen account of how the CIA manage to torture people, and it's a compelling, tense thriller under the very capable guiding hand of Gavin Hood, director of the Oscar-winning Tsotsi.
Did you know? The film is based on the true story of Khalid El-Masri, an innocent German citizen, who was mistaken by the CIA for Khalid al-Masri, a member of al-Qaeda. The mistake came from the similarity of their names. The innocent German was detained, flown to Afghanistan, interrogated and allegedly tortured by the CIA for several months as a part of the War on Terror.