As tortured hostage in Iraq tales go, “Wildcat” plays as entirely too chatty and slackly-paced. But it has its moments, a middle-sequence turnabout and a finale that has all the urgency missing from the first two acts.
“Black Mirror” and “Broadchurch” veteran Georgina Campbell plays Khadija, a “journalist” taken hostage by a terrorist gang in Mosul. She’s hurled into a cell with Luke, a Marine (Luke Benward of “Field of Lost Shoes” and “Grand Isle”), the only other survivor of the convoy they were in that was ambushed.
They barely have time to bond before they’re separated for interrogations. “Kat” meets a brute (Maz Siam) who promptly pulls out a fingernail, followed by an English speaker (Mido Hamada) who asks the questions.
“What is your name? Are you with State Department? Are you CIA?” He’s never satisfied with her answers.
But when the Marine is tossed back into the cell, he calls her a “lightweight” for answering any question, for pleading “Please, I am Muslim, you don’t have to do this,” etc.
“Wildcat,” as its title implies, is about how wrong our Marine might be.
This is no “particular skills” action hero thriller. Kat’s gifts include memory, details, some sort of training in a “work the problem” vein. They reason out where they are by the sounds of a mosque’s call to prayers. They figure out who has them.
But how can they get out of this?
Writer-director Jonathan W. Stokes (he scripted the Scott Adkins/Christian Bale actioner, “Bullet”) doesn’t shy away from the torture, but the picture dawdles through the middle acts, conversations filled with bonding, interrogations built on debates, with both prisoner and torturer reading the other’s psychological profiles, and threats.
“When I look at you, I see fear…If you act like a victim, people will victimize you.”
Campbell makes a solid lead, the captor/villains are passable stock “types.” But entirely too little is done to up the pace, raise the stakes. These characters should be in pain as they struggle to figure out why they were taken. Their captors need to be in more of a hurry to get what they want out of them.
The best dramatic moment, when Kat starts to intellectually turn the tables, is a great place to “cue rising suspense.” Nobody behind the camera took that cue.
MPA Rating: R (Language|Violence/Torture)
Cast: Georgina Campbell, Luke Benward, Mido Hamada, Maz Siam and Ibrahim Renno
Credits: Scripted and directed by Jonathan W. Stokes. A Saban Films release (April 23)
Running time: 1:33