The Worthy

The Worthy is an unrestrained action-thriller and the first of its kind for Emirati cinema.

Not long ago he charmed us with City of Life, an almost true to life depiction of life in Dubai. This time imminent Emirati director Ali F. Mostafa grabs our attention with a premonition of what could happen in the not so distant future.

Set in a derelict dystopia where clean water has become a precious commodity (if it isn’t already, time to wake up people!) The Worthy opens with a warning and in it a protruding message about the fate of humanity. The first fifteen minutes is also a warning that violence will be brutal, bloody, and at times extremely unforgiving. We are then introduced to a small group of survivors living in an abandoned aircraft factory. They have a huge water tank but low on ammunition, thus making them sitting ducks for drifters. With the palette already dark and dusty, the arrival of two mysterious strangers escalates the film into a bottomless pit of spectacular chaos.

Shot mostly in a single location, what follows is a deadly game of cat-and-mouse where one by one, characters are picked-off in gruesome death traps. While the fates of these characters are somewhat predictable, why they are being killed forms the central message in the film. As such, it won’t take long for viewers to realise that the theme on water scarcity is just the outer layer of this diabolical thriller that finds its footing in slasher territory. That the makers seem to have had free reign on death scenes is evident in violence that is almost on par with carnage in the Saw films. Even so, repetitiveness is kept to a minimum in favour of keeping the action grounded and beautifully choreographed.

With an ensemble cast and a credible script from horror writer Vikram Veet, The Worthy may feel familiar to the post-apocalyptic canon but it’s still a commendable effort and a leap forward in Arab cinema. Like City of Life before (including actors from that film), The Worthy is built on a platform of philosophical ironies that many may not see at first. But it’s there and waiting to be discovered, just like the emerging Arab film market. And judging from the applause during this screening, it also shows that Emirati cinema can be distinctly Arabic and strangely alluring at the same time.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.