When I heard about Encounter, I was intrigued by the premise, especially as it dealt with a father and his two young sons. I also discovered that the main lead is Riz Ahmed with Octavia Spencer in a secondary role. Both actors are phenomenal and I was hoping the film would live up to my expectations. Thankfully, the acting was powerful and engaging, the premise of the film was dramatic and emotional, and the tension keeps you on the edge of your seat. While the suspense doesn’t hold up as long as I’d like and there are scenes that don’t aid the overall story, the movie was excellent and well worth seeing.
Encounter is billed as a science fiction thriller, directed by Michael Pearce with the screenplay by Pearce and Joe Barton. The plot revolves around a marine veteran, Malik (Riz Ahmed) who goes on a rescue mission to save his two sons, Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby (Aditya Geddada) from a mysterious threat that he calls non-terrestrial microorganisms. He reaches out for help to Hattie (Octavia Spencer) to assist him but the danger escalates and soon, the two boys find themselves growing up fast. The question becomes, can Malik keep his sons safe or will he end up putting them in more danger than any of them can handle?
This film is outstanding in many ways. First, the plot and the premise are highly engaging. The threat that Malik sees all around him keeps you guessing as to how the film will resolve and as he picks up his sons to rescue them, the suspense is quickly introduced to the movie. The story also keeps the audience guessing as to the nature of the mysterious threat. The tension is kept up throughout the movie, using various methods, such as insect buzzing, images of insects, and the soundtrack. All of these tools keep the pacing tight and the tension high.
The relationship between the two boys and Malik is strongly presented. You are immediately told that there has been an absence, but the joy in Malik when he sees Jay and Bobby is clear. The tension and some of the dangers add a layer of trauma, forcing the boys to grow up, but you also see how protective Malik is of his sons. The dynamic between the three of them is well explored and the emotional bond is strong. While Malik does not always make the best choices, his love still comes through even when there is conflict between the three. The two young boys also have a sibling bond that is both authentic and beautiful as Jay helps Bobby and Bobby, in turn, is there for Jay, even after they disagree and fight.
What truly makes the film shine are the performances. Riz Ahmed is outstanding as Malik, emotional and powerful. As he shows affection and love for his sons, he also struggles with handling two young boys when they don’t listen to him. His performance also shows the character dealing with stress and conflict. His reactions add to the tension and suspense of the movie. The chemistry is high between him, Lucian-River Chauhan who plays Jay, and Aditya Geddada who plays Bobby. Octavia Butler gives an excellent portrayal of Hattie but I never expected less as she is always profoundly good in any role I’ve seen her in. What took my breath away was the performances given by Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada. Lucian-River Chauhan gives an emotional, riveting portrayal, his emotions clear on his face as he tries to help his father. Aditya Geddada is at turns silly and scared, providing all the elements you would expect. Both children give performances as good as any adult and should be watched in the future. Even the smaller roles in the film were excellent.
While I did love this film, I did find a few elements I thought could have been handled better. The suspense is great at the beginning but is dropped too quickly. The film is very dramatic and it could easily have been set up with just the drama from the beginning without losing the story but if the suspense was important, it should have been maintained longer than it was. I also found a few scenes that could have been cut without hurting the overall plot. Still, none of these distracted from an emotional, powerful story with incredible performances
If you liked Riz Ahmed in previous films or Octavia Spencer, I think this is one worth catching in the theaters. While it does also come out on Amazon Prime on December 10th, this is a plot worth a longer run at the theaters. The story is amazing, the ideas interesting, the relationships incredible, and the performances profound and engaging, especially the two young actors who do such a brilliant job. With its dramatic ending and authentic real performances, I feel that this film is not to be missed.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 microorganisms
Official Website: Encounter | Official Website | December 03 2021
A decorated Marine goes on a rescue mission to save his two young sons from a mysterious threat. As their journey takes them in increasingly dangerous directions, the boys will need to leave their childhoods behind. Directed by Michael Pearce, ENCOUNTER stars Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer and Rory Cochrane and is produced by Derrin Schlesinger, Piers Vellacott and Dimitri Doganis. Amazon Studios will release ENCOUNTER in theaters on December 3rd, 2021, and on Prime Video on December 10th, 2021.
ONE-LINER: Two brothers embark on a journey with their father, who is trying to protect them from an alien threat.