Encounter Review – Compelling, Engaging, Entertaining

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Encounter, an Amazon original, brings to the screen the story of a former Marine, who studies extraterrestrial parasites, and is on a mission to protect his two sons from this mysterious illness which is infecting the population.

As the film begins, we are introduced to Malik, played by Riz Ahmed, an Afghanistan war veteran, we see the film through his eyes, and see the breakdown of society on the television with news media reports of looting and chaos. We also see meteors flashing through the night sky.

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He is living in a motel, and suddenly he hears a loud buzzing, what sounds like a swarm of insects. He rests his ear to the wall and from beneath the wallpaper a single otherworldly flying insect emerges from the wall.

Then we meet Piya, played by Janina Gavankar and her son, Jay, played by Lucian-River Chauhan, and his younger brother, Bobby, played by Aditya Geddda. The three are living on a farm with Piya's husband, Dylan, played by Misha Collins. Jay, the oldest desperately misses his dad and resents Dylan and his attempts to replace his dad. Bobby is younger and enjoys having the attention and effort that Dylan makes in trying to make them happy.

Malik arrives at the farmhouse and in a minute, he is waking the boys and shining a flashlight in their eyes to see if the have been infected by the parasites. Soon they are on the road, and the boys, are just happy to be with their dad so they ask few questions.

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As they are driving through the night to reach the safe zone, Jay, the oldest, need a pit stop. They pull over, on a desolate highway, so Malik doesn't quite pull off the road. In minutes a state trooper pulls up and, when he discovers Malik's loaded weapon, the situation escalates. In seconds, it becomes a struggle.

The next morning the three are having breakfast when Jay begins to ask more questions. We see Malik is becoming slightly unglued, he is handling the boys well, and they are day-tripping with their dad. It is an awesome road trip. Bobby, the youngest, is unpredictable, and as they are flying down the highway, he is holding his GI Joe out the window, when he drops it.

Bobby is angry that his dad won't go back an get the toy and reaches up over the seat and covers Malik's eyes and holds on. They fly off the road and while they weren't injured Malik yells so sternly at him, he pees himself. Suddenly, the road trip is turning dark.

It is here Malik makes a phone call to his parole officer, Hattie, played by Octavia Spencer. He tries to explain he has really messed up this time. She is explaining you missed you psyche eval and he explains that he took his boys.

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By this time, the film takes a shift, and we understand Malik, a ten-tour decorated veteran, lost everything during a struggle with his C.O. that killed him. He spent two years in Leavenworth and on this side has nothing.

Now it is a race against time as the FBI have labeled him a family Annihilator and will stop at nothing to secure the hostages and capture and kill him, if necessary, which lead to the climatic ending.

Encounter is a compelling film. It is engaging and on both sides of the story is very believable. Riz Ahmed holds his own against two scene stealing young actors, who are able in an instant to go from loving and adorable to uncontrollable supercharged mutants. Lead by Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, the strong supporting cast provides authenticity and realism.

Encounter premieres on Amazon Prime Video December 10, 2021. See it.

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Country: USA.

Language: English.

Runtime: 108minutes.

Release Date: December 10, 2021.

Writer: Joe Barton, Michael Pearce.

Director: Michael Pearce.

Producer: Dimitri Doganis, Piers Vellacott, Derrin Schlesinger.

Cast: Riz Ahmed, Janina Gavankar, Lucian-River Chauhan, Aditya Gedda, Misha Collins, Octavia Spencer.

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