is still the modern, secular republic founded by Ataturk, but there are those
who would like to turn back the clock.
Nobody understands that better than the agents of Turkey’s counter-terrorist
agency. They will risk their lives to
thwart a violent group of Islamist fanatics in Tolga Örnek’s Labyrinth (trailer here), which screens
during the 2012 Brooklyn Film Festival.
horrific homicidal suicide bombing has murdered 95 innocent souls, including
thirty Americans and five Brits.
Unfortunately, the shadowy mastermind (who never delivers the bombs
himself, mind you) is working on a more ambitious attack. For Fikret, the moody Turkish Jack Bauer, it
is not just an assignment, it is personal.
He is out to avenge the partner kidnapped and presumably murdered by the
newly resurfaced terrorist ringleader.
has one ace card in his hand. He has
been running a confidential informative more-or-less off the books, whose
brother has fallen in with the elusive terror cell. He only trusts Rasim’s identity with his loyal
colleague (and prospective romantic interest), Reyhan. A valuable source, Rasim is coveted by British
intelligence, who offer information on Fikret’s missing partner in return for
the mystery source. The proposition is
the tension between the Turkish and British security services never escalates
beyond trash talking. In point of fact, Labyrinth is a refreshing corrective to
the notoriously anti-American and anti-Semitic Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, the Turkish Islamist agit-prop film co-starring
Gary Busey and Billy Zane. Here, it is
the Islamists who are explicitly identified as the terrorists, freely murdering
their own more moderate co-religionists for the sake of their extreme
agenda. Of course, their preferred target
is Turkey’s Jewish community. They even
use inconvenient terms such as “the caliphate” in the pre-bombing
videotapes. The American military only
appears in passing, productively collaborating with their Turkish counterparts
on a mission in Northern Iraq.
there are some moments of inspired movie violence, Labyrinth is more cerebral than action-oriented. As Fikret, Timuçin Esen power broods like
nobody’s business, while also developing some nice chemistry Meltem Cumbul’s
smart and mature Reyhan. They make it
clear they care about each other in ambiguous ways, without ripping their
clothes off. As for their quarry, the effective
supporting ensemble is flat-out chilling when portraying the face of Islamist terror.
We could be proud of Hollywood if it finally
tackled terrorism with a film like Labyrinth. That it was produced in Turkey is downright
shocking, in a good way. Engrossing and tragically realistic, Labyrinth is a standout selection of
this year’s BFF. Highly recommended, it
screens again this Sunday (6/10) at IndieScreen in Williamsburg.
Labels: BFF '12, Terrorism in film, Tolga Ornek, Turkish Cinema