Starring Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, Rory Cochrane, Lucian-River Chauhan, and Aditya Geddada.
Directed by Michael Pierce
Encounter Movie Review: Everything that can possibly go wrong with Riz Ahmed’s Malik Khan—and that includes a sloppy over-smart script trying to remain ahead of the audience—does go wrong. For one, everyone insists on calling Malik Khan, ‘Muh-leak Kahn’ and though playing a fastidious trigger-happy avenger, Malik doesn’t correct anyone.
Maybe he knows what we don’t until it’s too late: there is nothing that can be done to salvage the damage done to the script, a damage that far exceeds the psychological disorder of its war-wounded hero.
For the rapidly expanding stardom of Riz Ahmed, Encounter is a boon.There are reports that the role was written for a Caucasian star but altered to suit Riz. Wel,good for him. It’s always welcome to see an Asian actor blossoming in a global arcade. But at what cost! Ahmed’s role is so sketchily written and scantily contoured, he comes across more as a comicbook version of hero rather than a real character facing a dystopian meltdown where he begins to “see” things.
Rememnber what happened in Manoj Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense when his little protagonist began to see dead people?Malik Khan suffers worse. Even his own two sons(played with sprightly vigour by Lucian-River Chauhan and Bobby Khan) in this wry laconic road film begin to believe their Daddy is going bonkers.
And really, Riz is a resounding success at playing off-kilter characters, from The Reluctant Fundamentalist to The Sound Of Metal. His characters are almost invariably stuck down by an unforeseen crisis. Encounter is no exception. What starts off as an end-of-civilization survivalist story soon becomes a cat-and-mouse game between the cops and a man clearly off his rockers.
The highly gifted Octavia Spencer for once, looks lost as Malik’s parole officer.At one point in the silly plot she tells two police officers she would like to come along for the ride, be useful if she can, otherwise just sit quietly in the backseat. That’s precisely what Ms Spencer ends up doing in the film. She is there for the ride. But seems to have no clue where the plot is heading.
Neither , I supect,does Riz and the other actors. Nor do we. By the time we reach the preposterously over-sentimental climax where the audience is supposed to weep for Malik’s wounded fatherly pride,the question is no longer one of the protagonist’s sanity but the very existence of the world created by this film.
Why was Encounter made in the first place?