Movie Review: The Mauritanian

There is always the expectation in this country that we are always the good guys. In the United States we believe in doing the right thing, due process, common sense, justice for all. Unfortunately this has not been true in far too many legal cases in this country for many years. The movie the “The Mauritanian”, starring Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley is the latest example of massive legal injustice and like last years “Just Mercy”, this film shows how horrendous the legal system in this country can sometimes operate. In the case of Just Mercy, the main character was put on death row in Alabama in 1987 before he was even tried in court. In the case of this film, the main character was put in
Guantanamo Bay Cuba without ever being charged with a crime – and he remained there for 15 years. This is the kind of injustice that happens within 3rd world countries and is never acceptable in this country.

The Mauritanian is a true story, based on a book Guantánamo Diary written by the main character Mohamedou Ould Slahi, played extremely well by Tahar Rahim. Unfortunately Mohamedou was arrested 2 months after September 11 along with many others – because of the United States desperation to prevent another 911 attack. Due to 911, many hundreds of innocent people were imprisoned and violently tortured, with the justification that information at all costs to prevent terrorism was worth torture and illegal imprisonment. All of this was started during the Bush Cheney administration, who gave the military full authority to attain information from any prisoner using any method they saw fit. This could include water boarding, freezing cold jail cells, playing loud music day and night, non stop psychological torture and in this case, telling the prisoner they were going to arrest his mother and send her to Guantanamo Bay. My question while watching the torture of Mohamedou in many scenes was that why no person in charge did not know that torturing a human being for weeks and months would mean that the information attained would be meaningless, because anyone would say anything to stop the agony.

Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley play lawyers hired to defend Mohamedou and their many trips to Cuba to visit their client and the legal questions surrounding this extremely complicated case are some of the best parts of this movie. Many of the torture scenes of Mohamddou happen towards the end of this story, and it was hard to understand how any human being could still be alive, much less having any mental ability left, including the acuity to write a book. What this innocent man went through for 15 years, is unbelievable. The standout actor in this film is Tahar Rahim who does an outstanding job playing Mohamedou at a level that might win him an Academy Award nomination.

The Mauritanian is one of the most important movies about massive injustice, ever made. This country is far from perfect, especially our legal system, and has a long way to go to be fair and humane to all people.

I am surprised at the mediocre 70% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. My rating is at least 85% with a strong recommendation.

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