Encounter Film Review

Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal)) is a decorated marine and ex-con who acquires secret government information about "non-terrestrial microorganisms" that have infected half of humanity. He is convinced of this from his observations, and races off to “rescue" his two young sons (Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada) from his ex-wife (whom he believes is infected) and her new husband. In essence he kidnaps his own children, causing his pursuit by the FBI and his parole officer (Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water)).

The film opens with a meteor shower where seemingly extraterrestrial spores are scattered over fields, farms and onto various insects, who in turn sting and bite and infect half of humanity with parasites that will eventually maybe control them, or something worse and horribly unknown.

Khan hits the road to take his sons and make it to a base in the desert where scientists are trying to find a cure for this impending menace. The trio encounter dangerous situations as Khan's mission to make it to the base takes several violent turns. The film is dark and visually beautiful, and moves slowly much of time, where the plot gets muddled and you don't quite know where things will land.

This is another "what if" story, where we don't get attacked by aliens but microorganisms and parasites that ride on asteroids and space rocks that break up as they enter the atmosphere and spread their cargo. The plot is contemporary, a new global pathogen menacing the planet, but it gets stuck in the quest, where Khan's battle-damaged persona confuses his sons while they become closer on the journey.

The film has an unsatisfying ending while the always wonderful Octavia Spencer seems a bit lost in the story but still gives a solid performance. Ahmed's strong performance is marred by the plot with a couple of unnecessarily long scenes and a confusing third act. Michael Pearce directed and co-wrote the film that also stars Rory Cochrane, Janina Gavankar, and Keith Szarabajka. It will release in limited theaters on December 3, 2021 and on Prime Video on December 10, 2021.