(director/writer: Michael Pearce; screenwriter: Joe Barton; cinematographer: Benjamin Kracum; editor: Maya Maffiola; music: Jed Kurzel; cast: Riz Ahmed (Malik Khan), Octavia Spencer (Hattie), Janina Gavakar (Piya Khan), Lucien-River Chauan (Jay Khan),  Aditya Geddada (Bobby Kahn), Rory Cochrane (Shepard West), Keith Szarabajka (Grant), Misha Collins (Dylan), Shane McRae (Lance Dunn), Antonio Jaramillo (Raul); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Dimitri Doganis, Derrin Schlesinger, Piers Vellacott: Amazon Studios; 2021)

“Riz dazzles.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In the uneven disaster film by Brit director Michael Pearce (“Beast”) about a macho Marine seemingly rescuing his young children from a global parasitic alien invasion. Pearce’s writing partner is Joe Barton, and they tell the story from the Marine’s view for the first half and then from the law’s in the second half.

The decorated combat veteran Marine, suffering from PTSD, is
Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed). When released from prison, he at night secretly goes to the house of his ex-wife Piva (Janina Gavankar) and her new husband (Misha Collins), who he believes are infected by the alien insects, and while they sleep he snatches his grade-school kids, the older Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby (Aditya Geddada), and takes them to a secure military base in the Nevada desert.

The kids are told they are going camping. Then he tells them of the alien invasion that has infected the world population. Seemingly the dude is a mental case, and when they get hungry the kids become scared.

A manhunt is on for Malik and his kidnapped sons. But the skilled warrior eludes his pursuers, and his wild story that initially excites the youngsters will eventually alarm them.

Malik’s only advocate is his easy-going concerned parole officer Hattie (
Octavia Spencer), who acts as the tough love voice of reason. Rory Cochrane is the terse FBI investigator Shepard West, who is in charge of catching the child abductor.

The poor guy Malik is struggling to stay sane, as he’s being pulled to get his sons back in his custody no matter what and also trying to deal with PTSD.

It all reverts back to a film about a custody battle over children, and a combat soldier dealing with a severe mental illness that resulted from his war experience.

Riz dazzles in a story that in the second half falters as it becomes more familiar and a less spectacular one to those who have already seen enough films about these nasty custody battles or of soldiers dealing with their lingering PTSD problems without proper care.

It should be pointed out the photography by DP
Benjamin Kracum is exceptional.

REVIEWED ON 12/9/2021  GRADE:  B-