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The brouhaha over ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ makes Guy Hibbert’s exhaustingly intense examination of the morality of torture a particularly timely one. David Oyelowo’s MI5 man Edward is convinced that Waleed (Arsher Ali), a vocal British-born critic of his own government, is planning a terror attack. Following Waleed to Cairo, Edward finds more red tape than hard evidence: how far is he prepared to go to follow a hunch, get his man and stop a possible atrocity?
This is no Hollywood display of pyrotechnics: the violence is psychological and the battles fought mostly internal, emphasised by Niall MacCormick’s unforgiving way with a close-up. Oyelowo is superb as the frustrated patriot reaching breaking point; Ali is equally good as the ambiguous, no less patriotic accused; when they finally meet on screen, the tension crackles and the exchange of moral provocations grips like a vice. The ending may frustrate a few, but is of a piece with a drama whose only certainty is that nothing is certain.