Review: 'Encounter' Effective, Though Not Expected

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday December 3, 2021

'Encounter'
'Encounter'  (Source:Amazon Prime Video)

Not the movie that was advertised, the Riz Ahmed starrer "Encounter" is still compelling, and keeps your attention even if you feel you've ended up in the wrong theater.

The initial trailers and posters for Michael Pearce's film promise a sci-fi adventure about a father trying to protect his sons from an alien threat. While this is true, to an extent, the film is more a drama about a man facing the demons of his past.

Ahmed stars as Malik, a veteran who has been traveling the country for two years to get a handle on an alien threat that causes ordinary humans to become violent predators. Because of his mission, he hasn't seen his two young sons Jay (Lucian River Chauhan) or Bobby (Aditya Geddada) for a long time. As a result, he is unaware that his wife Piya (Janina Gavankar) has moved on with another man.

When the alien threat worsens, Malik rushes home to protect his family, only to find his wife too far gone as a result of the alien infection. He grabs his kids, and they take off on a cross-county journey to a military facility where they will be safe. Throughout, he teaches his kids how to protect themselves and tries to make up for lost fatherly time.

But all is not what it seems, which is where Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer comes in.

The less you know about the film the better, but if you're looking for an action/adventure a la "The Tomorrow War," this isn't it. This is a more psychological tale about a father trying to run from his demons until they finally catch up to him and overwhelm his life. It generates a fascinating performance by Ahmed; kudos, also, to the young boys playing his children, who are both excellent.

Pearce's direction is effective here, keeping his audience off-balance and going gritty when things start to go sideways. But, as stated, the less you know going in, the more effective the film will be.

While the film might frustrate those looking for another kind of movie, it's a genuinely affecting take on the effects of war, and the lengths we'll go to protect the ones we love.

"Encounter" opens in theaters December 3rd.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

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