Wildcat (2021)

A woman unexpectedly plays a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a terrorist leader in this very twisty thriller from director Jonathan W. Stokes.

When her convoy is ambushed while on assignment in the Middle East, journalist Khadija Young finds herself kidnapped by the insurgent leader Abu Khalid. Suspecting she is not who she says she is, Abu spends the day constantly grilling her. Yet, she insists she is a journalist on assignment, and it is her mastery of Arabic languages that got her the job. Khalid is still not convinced and has her inside a room where she meets another captive, Marine Sgt. Luke White.

As time passes, Abu Khalid is still convinced that Khadija is not who she seems to be. However, Khalid was right. Khadija is a CIA agent disguising herself as a journalist to get intel on Khalid and his master plan. Together with Luke, she devises a plan to escape as they learn Khalid and his organization want to bomb the American Embassy in Baghdad. As she attempts to use false information to trap the terrorists, something is in store for Khadija, but not what she expects.

Jonathan W. Stokes has done something ingenious with this film which tends to be a military psychological thriller and not a full action film. The film is told in chapters, a move that could have made this elongated into a series. Stokes’ method works well as with each chapter, we get major twists within the central plot. In terms of action, the film doesn’t pick up its action mode until the fourth of its five-chapter tale. But the slow build to the action-filled moments works well as it becomes a cat-and-mouse game between our protagonist and antagonist.

While most of the movie focuses on Georgina Campbell’s Khadija Young and Mido Hamada’s Abu Khalid, there are beats where we see Luke, played by Luke Benward, who is seriously injured and explains to Khadija that Khalid and his men had ambushed their convoy. Campbell pulls off a very good performance as Khadija, who uses her wits to trick both Khalid and his “interrogator”, the elder Hamza, played well by Maz Siam. The interrogation scenes has Hazma mute unless he gets a phone call, then it’s pretty much the only time we see him speak. The constant twists in the story with each chapter just make this work checking out if you like slow building thrillers.

Wildcat is a very tense military psychological thriller with excellent performances by Georgina Campbell and Mido Hamada leading the way along with Luke Benward offering great support. Jonathan W. Stokes’s storytelling method really works here.

WFG RATING: B+

Saban Films presents a Soapbox Films production in association with Divide/Conquer. Director: Jonathan W. Stokes. Producers: Christopher Alender and Narineh Hacopian. Writer: Jonathan W. Stokes. Cinematography: Adam Lee. Editing: Matt Blundell.

Cast: Georgina Campbell, Luke Benward, Mido Hamada, Maz Siam, Ibrahim Renno, Aaron Cavette.

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