TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE Lagoon Cinema, starts Friday
Staying on the current-events beat after his 2005 Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, filmmaker Alex Gibney aims to make ripped-from-the-headlines j'accusations that are also durable documents with Taxi to the Dark Side. The title refers to the cab driven by an Afghan man named Dilawar. Picked up as a suspect in a rocket attack in 2002, he was placed in the custody of U.S. soldiers at the Bagram "Collection Point." Within five days, Dilawar was dead from the injuries he sustained from beatings to the legs, complicated by the trauma of being left spread-eagled and handcuffed to the ceiling of his cell. Dilawar's story is used as the entryway into a larger discussion of systems, as his prison cell opens onto a broad study of American interrogation tactics as they've developed in the years following 9/11. Gibney's experts answer the central question—"Does torture ever work?"—with something close to a pat "No." But maybe Taxi has to cut messy issues clean, so they'll fit as building blocks in its splendid polemic architecture. When you step back, it is something to admire: Without cheapening the suffering of American or Afghan, the film retrieves the torture issue from the realm of the abstract and gives the plain facts of this world right now.