Director Timur Bekmambetov adds to the growing pool of “computer screen movies” with the release of “Profile” this week in theaters. Here, a British undercover journalist infiltrates the social media circuits to draw out ISIS terrorists only to find herself being emotionally consumed and drawn into her charming recruiter. To be honest, this plot seems much deeper than something that should be tossed into the gimmicky sub-genre of films that take place entirely on the screen of electronic devices as I feel it brings limitations to general story-telling.
With “Profile” there certainly are some strong aspects that make it easily able to grab your attention. As this journalist, through her computer learns to communicate with ISIS recruiters it does provide moments of uneasiness and a slow build-up of paranoia as you can feel this woman is getting into dark waters. However, it also feels a little unrealistic.
While this journalist is capable, she also seems oddly unprepared for what she is getting into. Something that seems doubtful for the dangers and the ease of which things can go wrong. These are the moments where things felt a little contrived for the sake of suspenseful story-telling. So, I would say this movie bounces from intriguing and fascinating, to a tad over-literal and jumbled in its progression. The laptop screen view-point gets a bit chaotic at times as Amy is bouncing from web pages, to articles, to text messages, and frequent phone calls to introduce characters. This leads the screen to getting a bit messy at times.
With that said, there is still plenty of fun to be had if you take the delivery of material with a grain of salt. Sure, it is inspired by true-events, but there is no doubt most of this is fictionalized for the big-screen. I think if you go into this one looking at it from the aspect of it being a mystery/thriller, and not a deep-dive factual exploration of ISIS recruiters brainwashing Western women through social media, that you will find more engagement in the story-line. It has effective spots of tension, and the performances from Valene Kane and Shazad Latif were enjoyable. Kane was able to bring a range of emotion and she was an interesting lead despite not getting to know much about her. Other than the fast she seems to be going into a dangerous assignment untrained.
Overall, “Profile” is a fun watch if you take it for what it is. I think a traditional approach to telling this story would’ve served the source-material better. I think this would’ve allowed for more substance to be added to the various story wrinkles and it would have also brought a little bit of atmosphere to this story as well. Because the “computer screen” overcoating here hindered the topics from being fully explored. Something that hindered many of the potentially compelling moments. Regardless, it’s a fun watch that creates just enough emotional layering to bring interest in seeing if this powder keg of a situation will blow-up or fizzle out.
Anthony J Digioia II - SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved.