Movie Review: Encounter

It’s easy enough to become confused with a movie when certain elements are shown early on and are meant to drive things forward. But Encounter is the type of movie that has been commented on by several people in a manner that makes it clear that things didn’t really come together in this story. Riz Ahmed isn’t the issue since his character, Malik, is easy enough to believe in given that he’s kind of an unstable individual that firmly believes that the world is falling to a parasitic alien invasion, which is bolstered just a little by the beginning of the movie and what he sees in a chance encounter with a police officer. But there are so many inconsistencies throughout the movie that one can’t help but think that someone might have been trying to create a science fiction movie, which is how this movie is described, as well as a drama thriller, but didn’t understand how to link them together and performed a bit of rudimentary writing that slammed two elements together in a way that confused a lot of viewers. 

The score on Rotten Tomatoes kind of reflects this since the critics and the fans both kept their ratings within the 50s, which isn’t unheard of but gives one the feeling that people were willing to give the movie a chance but weren’t ready to fully embrace it. That’s fair actually since the story is something that could have been a lot more touching given that Malik was a man that wanted to see his sons, but he went about it in a manner that was less than optimal. With the premise that there was an alien invasion on the rise and that the world was in danger, the audience could be forgiven the thought that things would pick up eventually and that the stakes were as high as they could get since he had his kids with him and a list of suspects that was growing exponentially thanks to the exposure that was teased here and there when the movie would cut away to various people and insects that were hanging about. 

Normally when we think of a science fiction movie, people tend to believe that there will be more than one element that will continue to be present throughout the movie. The threat usually continues to build and even if it’s behind the scenes, things will break the surface now and again to remind the audience that yes, something is coming, and there is something that will happen that will rock the audience and the characters in a way that will make it clear that a point of no return has been reached that can’t be walked back. In Encounter, however, the movie rolls on in a manner that shows how Malik and his sons cope with the idea of being on the road and living in a manner that Malik demands since he’s of the mind that there is an alien invasion on the rise when in truth it would appear that his mental state has already started to decline during the opening credits and it’s getting worse as the movie pushes forward. 

I won’t say this is a horrible movie since the acting was quite well done, but the fact that it does pull a bait and switch on the audience is hard to appreciate since there are movies that have done this successfully while making the audience happy since there was a bit of natural progression that linked the two different story elements in a manner that people came to enjoy. From Dusk Till Dawn is a good example since the movie went from being what looked like a bloody, fugitive from justice-type story to a vampire story in a very big hurry. But Encounter goes from being what people might think of as an alien invasion movie with insanely high stakes thanks to the nature of the extraterrestrial threat to a story about a man with serious mental problems that somehow finds a resolution at the end, even if it’s not perfect. In other words, this movie builds something quickly and then lets it drag out to an ending that’s touching, but kind of unsatisfying. 

In a way, this almost feels like an attempt by Amazon to test out this story as a means of seeing what it is that people want to see. It would appear that this is a throwaway movie that those who made it were hoping would be taken as a thoughtful and provocative piece that people would applaud. But while it does send a message concerning mental health that a lot of people are bound to understand. Overall though, Encounter is the type of movie that belongs on a streaming site rather than in the theater, so it did serve its purpose. 

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