Review: ‘Encounter’ is a psychological thriller with a heartfelt fatherly bond

A decorated Marine goes on a rescue mission to save his two young sons from a mysterious threat … and, watch out for creepy bugs

Welcome readers to Native Viewpoint reviews by Vincent Schilling. Today’s review is Encounter, a film starring Riz Ahmed, who did a wonderful job. It’s now playing on Amazon.

I was looking up the trailer for Encounter on YouTube and happened upon the first comment on the trailer’s channel. The commentator said something to the effect of (and I am paraphrasing) “You often see the love of a mother in movies, but rarely the complexities of a father’s love.”

The statement is certainly true in Encounter, a beautiful film. I have to give Amazon ample credit, as I rarely am disappointed in the films that are Amazon Originals produced in the genre’s that I love. 

In my reviews, I give my score from 0 to 10 on a one point decimal scale. I feel I can be the most fair that way. As a film lover, I don’t give a lot of terrible reviews, because I appreciate so much the work that goes into them. There are a few over the years that have garnered a “Rotten” on my Rotten Tomatoes critic page.

That said, here you go.

Native Viewpoint Score: 9.5/10

My one sentence summation:

An exploration of a U.S. Marine and father’s troubled love for his two sons. The biggest fight is against his own demons, thus, a beautiful formula for a film.

Plot summary: 

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.

My review:

Reading the initial summary, I thought the film was going to be all about the creepy science fiction-oriented theme involving one of my all time fears … big bugs. (Insert silent scream here.)

But as the film continued to progress into its storyline, I was more and more impressed as the film dove in to the complex world of a soldier trying to hold his crumbling world together. And when I say dive in, I really mean way in. 

As a former U.S. Army lieutenant as well as enlisted, I was pleasantly surprised to see Riz Ahmed (a British-born Pakistani actor) portraying U.S. Marine Malik Khan. In the film, Khan is a man that has served 10 combat tours and is suffering from extreme post traumatic stress.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Riz Ahmed (a British-born Pakistani actor) portraying U.S. Marine Malik Khan

10 years ago I would suspect film studios might not have been so quick to cast a Pakistani man in an American soldier’s role. I certainly applaud such a choice. American soldiers come from every race, and film studios have for so long neglected this truth. I appreciated it wholeheartedly, thinking of my Korean buddy in basic training. He was training as hard as I was and our race was not a factor. We were helping each other train and we worked to learn to stay alive if the time ever came. Film studios often show apple pie type characters, rarely all ethnicities, but my barracks have always had a plethora of races. So this was a nice truthful reflection of the military.

That said, Ahmed did an incredible job delivering to the viewers of this film, a soldier living at the edges of sanity, barely able to contain his misgivings, to the point of near and literal self destruction.

His two sons come close to stealing the show with their impressive acting skills and childish silliness as well as sincere discoveries of foreboding events. It was also a nice surprise to see Octavia Spence (who I really enjoyed in Ma) playing Khan’s parole officer Hattie Hayes.

I won’t post any spoilers but I do want to congratulate everyone involved in the creation of this film. I love the exploration here. Khan goes into a vulnerable state inasmuch as he is a Marine wishing to save the lives of his sons. 

Ahmed brings through the life of his character, something sacred. Our father’s are troubled beings, who must always strive to hold it all together, while nearly falling apart themselves. I had little idea what my father must have felt for me as a young boy. My father knew he had to prepare for a world that cares little about our real welfare.

Ahmed brought an amount of appreciation for my father I hadn’t really explored before.

Now on Amazon