The latest piece of preening liberal-guilt cinema, Gavin Hood’s Rendition is laughably melodramatic and agonizingly inert, more interested in its pretzel-y narrative structure than issues of torture, justice and “extraordinary rendition,” the policy in which terror suspects are transferred and indefinitely imprisoned in foreign countries. On his way home from an unspecified business meeting in “Northern Africa,” American citizen Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) is grabbed by U.S. agents and shuttled off to a secret prison on the orders of a CIA neocon villainess (Meryl Streep), all because cell phone records indicate he may have been involved in an African market bombing in which an American agent was killed. Meanwhile, the deceased’s partner Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is tasked with watching Anwar be tortured by a brutish cop (Igal Naor) whose daughter – in yet another of many concurrently running fatuous subplots – is having an affair with a young jihadist. Every moment is simplistically sketched and primed for maximum didacticism, while cast members, including Reese Witherspoon as Anwar’s Mariane Pearl-ish pregnant wife, are left to embody single virtues: Gyllenhaal is nobility, Witherspoon is loyalty, Streep is evil incarnate, Alan Arkin’s senator is self-serving careerism, and so on. Hood finds no way to tie his story’s various strands together in a compelling way, but his blundering direction is eventually no more egregious than the film’s simplistic, stacked-deck diatribe against U.S. military tactics and preachy, moral equivalence portrait of Americans and Arabs.