The Mauritanian (2021) Review

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was detained in the US military’s Guantanamo Bay detention centre and held without charge for well over a decade. He finds allies in defence attorney Nancy Hollander and her associate Teri Duncan, battling the government in a fight for justice.


The Mauritanian is based on a memoir “Guantánamo Diary” written by Mohamedou Ould Slahi during his time being detained. It is harrowing film from start to finish and will certainly rock you to the core knowing what happened to many men. The way in which a lot of the scenes are filmed it allows the viewer to really see how things were for 760. That is how we are first introduced to him by his detainee ID number. That is something that makes the beginning even worse, we have no idea of his name and just the number constantly shouted at him. We later get to know him more as a person after the meetings with Nancy Hollander and Teri Duncan, both women really push to fight the government as no actual charges have been brought up against him.

Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch is the prosecution attorney and when he begins to look into the case, something he was advised against due to the 9/11 links which was the reason he had been detained in the first place. With no evidence to prove anything against him he must go through a lot of torture, an attempt to draw information form him. This is very tough to watch, the loud metal music, the water, the cold areas and being beat up. It really makes you wonder how someone could do that to another person. Especially when you have no actual evidence that they have done anything or any idea that they even know anything.

I didn’t actually know anything about the background story so I was pretty much shocked many times throughout. The only links I would have to this would be thinking about other films from this time period and linked to 9/11 would be The Report and Official Secrets. So I guess this one kind of ties them all together with what possibly happened.

Kevin Macdonald manages to have such suspense and thrilling moments all wrapped up within his films. Something that really does leave you on the edge of your seat. Also drawing out fantastic performances from the cast and more importantly the leading roles.

I thought Jodie Foster was fantastic as Nancy Hollander and that was a big highlight to the film, really showing that she still more than has what it takes for very important and good roles. Then Shailene Woodley really stepping up with her performance as well, moving away from the lighter films she has previously acted in. Benedict Cumberbatch is strong enough in his supporting role and Zachary Levi was good as well.

However, the film completely belongs to Tahar Rahim, who is well and truly on another level with his performance. I was seriously blown away by him each second he was on screen. It was fully engaging and very impressive to see him using many different languages throughout it. Not forgetting the physical side to the performance of the torture scenes. Everything about the way Rahim acts is so believable and you cannot help but hope everything will eventually work out for him. Surely he will receive an Oscar nomination for this performance?

With a truly incredible leading performance and an absolutely brutal background, The Mauritanian goes deep behind the scenes of the post 9/11 hysteria and the attempt to make someone pay for what happened. The closing scenes and the information which follows is truly heartbreaking and probably confirmation that some human spirit can never be broken.

Coming to the UK – Thursday 1st April release by STX on Amazon Prime Video

3 thoughts on “The Mauritanian (2021) Review

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