Joshua Jackson (left) and Alexander Siddig try to survive Inescapable.
INESCAPABLE (Ruba Nadda). 90 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (September 14). See times. Rating: N
The story of a former intelligence officer (Alexander Siddig) tearing through Damascus to find his abducted daughter, Inescapable is the Canadian Taken - humourless, inert and dull in its plotting and action movie trappings.
When news reaches him that his photojournalist daughter has gone missing in his native Syria, Siddig's Toronto businessman sneaks into the country to track her down, confronting some personal demons in the process. Aided by his ex-fiancée (Marisa Tomei, barely passing for an Arab), Siddig stumbles across a conspiracy involving Israeli spies, buried secrets and incriminating photographs that may or may not exist.
Writer/director Ruba Nadda (Cairo Time) has a knack for emotional, continent-spanning stories but lacks the muscle an action-thriller like this requires. Siddig's Adib has to be the worst cinematic spy since Peter Sellers's Inspector Clouseau tripped over clues or otherwise waited for information to find him.
As a tight-lipped Canadian embassy bureaucrat, Joshua Jackson isn't much better. Worse, Inescapable posits an ill-defined Arab boogeyman, with talk about "they" and "them" and streets teeming with secret police - a cheap way of capitalizing on some vague idea of Syrian police-state tumult.
Pretensions of ripped-from-today's-headlines relevance aren't enough to salvage Nadda's saggy script and slipshod direction.