A disappointment, if only for letting down the high hopes it builds at the outset. The opening, which follows young Palestinian refugee Fahed (Abdallah El Akal) as he scoots through the streets of 1982 Beirut on his way back to his camp, is as elegant and informative as one could wish. What follows is equally promising - the conversations with Dad and Grandpa, the tragic losses wrought by bombs and guns, the seemingly miraculous capture of an Israeli pilot... It's all brisk and straightforward and bracing, until it becomes plodding and meandering and sentimental. (The soundtrack's winking use of "Staying Alive" is a possible exception.) Even cinematographer Dan Laustsen's fluid work yields in the end, giving us a dramatic climax full of sharp cuts in place of gradual revelations. Fahed's mission to honor his father is a noble one, but this Middle Eastern Huckleberry Finn somehow falls short of that nobility. With Stephen Dorff. 2012.

1.0 stars

— Matthew Lickona

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