‘Encounter’ Review: Riz Ahmed Unnerves in Small Scale Disaster Movie

‘Encounter’ Review: Riz Ahmed Unnerves in Small Scale Disaster Movie
‘Encounter’ Review: Riz Ahmed Unnerves in Small Scale Disaster Movie


Michael Pearce’s invasion flick is a helpful antidote to the sillier manufacturer of popcorn leisure that has prolonged dominated the style.

The to start with indicator that points are about to go radically mistaken is Michael Pearce’s “Encounter” is a rattle. A compact thrumming, actually, the form that an regular person in an common motel could not notice. But Riz Ahmed’s Malik Khan isn’t an normal person — the extreme actor has crafted his occupation on grand scale alarmists, aspirants, and losers, the form of weary-eyed fellas who lie awake in mattress waiting for their morning alarm — so the previous Maritime not only hears the excitement, he leaps into action. With military precision, he seizes a Bible from the nightstand and — splat! — squashes a wasp.

A single insect down. 10 quintillion to go.

No one particular else at the motel is on warn for an unusually intense infestation. Malik’s as-yet-unfamiliar intel is that some time not far too lengthy in the past, a little meteorite pinged on to the earth. This went dismissed by absolutely everyone but a handful of barking puppies. But a parasite on that meteorite contaminated a cricket, who then infected a praying mantis, who then contaminated a full forest of buggers prior to the information can make a poor pun about Beetlemania.

Other than this isn’t a spectacle the place an awful catastrophe is met with worse punchlines. “Encounter,” co-penned by Pearce and Joe Barton, is a catastrophe film on the smallest scale: Ahmed’s divorced father swooping up his younger sons Jay and Bobby (Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada, equally pure and wonderful) away from their mom (Janina Gavankar) who’s been acting suspicious and driving them to a protected armed forces foundation prior to the rest of America helps make a run on Raid.

It’s a highway motion picture exactly where Malik encourages his young children to permit their hair down even as he retains the home windows rolled up. He’s at when protective of their innocence, marketing their escape as “a mad street trip with your neat ass father!” and bummed to master they choose KPOP to hefty metal. A symptom, he figures, of them increasing up with out adequate of his his bro-tacular macho influence. So he utilizes machismo to maintain them in line, promising the quality-schoolers that if they observe his procedures, he’ll reward them with sweet (sweet!) and absolutely free use of his gun (absolutely sure?).

Malik is the rare model of action dad who’s concentrated on preserving his kids’ bodies, not their souls, the only other a person of take note being Tom Cruise in “War of the Worlds” who screamed at his teen son for attempting to assistance strangers. At 1st, Malik’s flaws are refreshing — invigorating, even — in a genre outlined by motion dads like The Rock who endeavor to have it all: the strength, the jokes, the coronary heart, the audience’s devotion as nevertheless the Rock should really be their aspiration daddy, too. Ahmed lets Malik get giggles — he insists on calling his young children “dude” — but he and Pearce want to make a real looking journey movie, not a giddy popcorn muncher. So even however Malik carries himself like he could have system doubled in “San Andreas” or “Skyscraper,” his jockish rough person act cracks to expose an unsteadier man. A person a lot more human than a hero — and somebody you may possibly not want by your facet except if you’re sure you are preventing the similar detail.


The youngsters get hungrier. Their smiles start to drain. And there’s the continuous threat that an ignorant cop may possibly pull over the motor vehicle and not choose kindly to Malik’s itch to see if there is worms wriggling in his retinas.

The fact is, just about every motion picture is an act of belief not a great deal different than Malik telling the boys they are going to enjoy a sport known as “Get in the Automobile as Quickly as Humanly Probable.” We in the audience put ourselves in the backseat even though the director takes the wheel. We believe that what they explain to us to imagine: that the Rock can preserve the world, that a rom-com few will reside happily at any time soon after, that Godzilla is 984 ft tall. This isn’t a terrible issue. The motion pictures are, in essence, a shared delusion. But in an era of, frankly, incredulous credulity where by shared delusions are leaping from the display screen to your aunt’s Facebook website page, and gullibility is literally infectious, “Encounter” insists that skepticism is a advantage. (And that empathy is a strong antidote.)

Alas, that past message is lugged towards the climax by Octavia Spencer in a single of her the latest string of thankless helper roles in which she wears smart footwear and struggles to get any one else in the motion picture to listen to her guidance. She’s as well lively to maintain acquiring sidelined in these mealy little components, and every single time the film cuts absent from Malik and his boys cruising past cinematographer Benjamin Kracun’s hardscrabble desert vistas (his digicam is about the steadiest issue in this slippery film) we’re reminded that the movie is simply over regular, not outstanding. There is a savage tiny aspect trip that includes a rural militia.

At the time “Encounter” reveals its location, there are not a lot of places for the script to go, even though there is a savage very little facet vacation to a rural militia during which it gets to be clearer that this Ahmed performing showcase is also interested in touring the American psyche, a spot exactly where, as Malik says, “Folks glimpse usual but they are not.”

Quality: B

An Amazon Studios release, “Encounter” is now readily available in pick theaters and will be offered to stream on Primary Online video on a later on day.

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