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Movie review: 'Reluctant Fundamentalist' loses human story in thriller plot

Published May 10, 2013 8:41 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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 Friday, May 10, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; R for language, some violence and brief sexuality; 130 minutes.