Superbly shot, and rendered with a richly beautiful palette the story however is a little thin. There's not a lot going on in terms of character development. For a first feature it's an assured effort but it would have been nice to get a bit more of an insight into the mind of the young protagonist in particular. 3 stars
When you strip away the striking cinematography and haunting soundtrack, you are left with a shell. The shift from awkward father-and-son to mass murderers was too quick, and without any moment of hesitation or motivation other than an ex-wife (you can bet all ties to Islam were removed). The acting wasn't nuanced, it was just rigid. Too subtle for its own good, to the point of ignoring effective storytelling.
While Isaiah Washington makes for a compelling character, his strong presence is wasted on material that skimps too often on much needed moments of narrative density, since the material as it is is hell bent on getting to the end of a long and complex relationship in as little time as possible, minimizing the impact of a significant development for the viewer and wasting the chance to capitalize on a great idea.
A rather impressionistic approach that floats through events without often grounding and connecting us. The effect is to place the audience as a rather detached observer. Occasional excessively hackneyed choices (like dissolving from gun sight cross-hairs to a nuclear explosion) intrude into the lyric tone of the movie undermining its effectiveness.
A chilling film that focuses not so much on the gruesome shootings but on the relationship between two men. In the wake of violence, everyone wants to know "why" but this film gives no answer. Instead, it reveals how a young man is turned into a killer by the father figure he trusts and depends on.