People in Pakistan had many reasons to be excited about Jinn. For one, the Hollywood flick has two Pakistani-Americans in dominant roles: actor Faran Tahir, who has some A-list Hollywood movies and television dramas such as Iron Man, Star Trek, Escape Plan and Grey’s Anatomy to his credit, and writer-director Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad. To top the hype, the trailers also promised the viewers a sleek and stylish cinematic experience. But none of that lasts once the opening credits start rolling.
As the title suggests, the film is based on jinns, the supernatural beings whose existence has been dealt with repeatedly in local dramas and books but is a relatively unexplored subject in Hollywood.
The film revolves around a Michigan-based couple, Shawn (Dominic Rains) who is an automotive designer, and his wife Jasmine (Serinda Swan). Life is good until Shawn receives a mysterious message, warning him of a curse that has afflicted his family for generations. Having lost his parents as a child, Shawn has no prior knowledge of this and dismisses it as a hoax until strange things begin to happen.
Thereon, Shawn seeks help from the priest, Father Westhoff (William Atherton), the supernatural Gabriel (Ray Park) and Shawn’s estranged uncle Ali (Faran Tahir), who is also a psychological patient, in order to beat the jinns at their own sinister game.
Ultimately, however, Shawn must rely on the speed of his latest creation, the ‘Firebreather’ (a car specifically designed by the director for the film), and his own ‘inner prowess’ to protect his family and save the world.
There are some genuinely creepy moments, but those are ruined by romance, and the romance is, in turn, ruined by the cheesiness of some of the characters and dialogues. The film would have been better served if it was dealing with just one genre and doing it well, instead of fumbling through all.
The production value is very high — complete with sleek camera shots, expensive special effects, ample fighting and driving stunts. But this, and the movie’s novel premise, cannot make up for a lacklustre script and lazy storytelling. One time, for example, a sacred knife works but other times it doesn't; the jinn exhibits fantastic powers in some scenes but he seems to forget about them in the others.
The character development is also poor and the actors fail to engage the viewer. Dominic Rains, as the protagonist of the movie, is rather stiff and well-known actors such as Faran Tahir and William Atherton do not shine much in their unexpectedly small roles either. Ray Park, playing a good supernatural force, is also wasted with a very brief martial arts performance and a slow-motion fight scene.
The final credits hint at a Jinn sequel, but given how this installment failed to develop a strong supernatural belief into a compelling narrative, the film does not merit a follow-up.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Samra Muslim is a digital marketing professional, an avid reader and a movie buff. She tweets @samramuslim
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 25th, 2014.
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