Movie review: ‘Reluctant Fundamentalist’ loses human story in thriller plot
Published: May 10, 2013 08:41AM
Updated: May 14, 2013 01:44PM
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"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" • Changez (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani immigrant, becomes a Wall Street success, pleasing his boss (Kiefer Sutherland), in this political drama. Ishaan Nair | IFC Films

One well-acted character can’t carry the weight of a confused narrative in the political thriller “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”

That character is Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani professor being interviewed by a reporter (Liev Schreiber) for his perceived anti-American radicalism — a mindset that makes him a CIA target after an American professor is kidnapped.

Khan tells his story to the reporter, about his former life as an eager young financial analyst working in New York for a prestigious Wall Street firm, and how things changed with his boss (Kiefer Sutherland) and his artist girlfriend (Kate Hudson) after the World Trade Center fell.

Director Mira Nair deftly captures the sense of paranoia post-9/11, and through Ahmed’s sharp performance depicts how the American dream can turn sour from anti-Muslim prejudice. But William Wheeler’s screenplay (adapting Mohsin Hamid’s novel) falls apart as it tries to graft Khan’s personal story into a lackluster ticking-clock plot.

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‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’

Opens today at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; R for language, some violence and brief sexuality; 130 minutes.