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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Review: Thriller Huroob Ezterari simmers with social tension

The Egyptian box-office hit arrives in the UAE and its impressive action marks out debut director Ahmad Moussa as one to watch

A screenshot of Horob Edterary from Youtube channel of Elsobky Film. Courtesy Elsobky Film
A screenshot of Horob Edterary from Youtube channel of Elsobky Film. Courtesy Elsobky Film

For those looking for a regional spin on their cinematic thrills you will be hard-pressed to find anything that matches the excitement of Huroob Ezterari.

After dominating the box office in Egypt, the prison escape thriller arrives on UAE screens as the undisputed winner of this year’s Eid Al Fitr season – a holiday usually accompanied by the release of big-budget Egyptian films.

Such was the film’s roaring success – as of last week it had earned more than 40 million Egyptian pounds (Dh8,220,683) – it arrives here with English subtitles. And while this lends itself to a broader audience, for the viewer much of Huroob Ezterari is made up of a series of exciting chases featuring everything from cars and bikes to horses, backed by a pounding electronic soundtrack.

The premise, while not original – four streetwise characters framed for murder then escape jail to solve the case – is pulled off with such style and aplomb you can’t help being swept along by it.

Leading the cast is Ahmed El Sakka, who as biker Adham leads a motley crew made up of frazzled single mother Nada (Ghada Adel), thief Moustafa (Amir Karara) and sensitive family man Youssef (Moustafa Mohammed).

Each character has a different background, providing a subtle social commentary on the festering tensions in Egyptian society. Adham is street-smart but his low social standing fails to get him ahead in life; Nada’s marital status leaves her ostracised both personally and professionally; Moustafa’s hand-to-mouth existence leads him to petty crime; while financial pressures have ripped apart Youssef’s family.

On their tail is Essam (Fathi Abdelwahab), a jaded investigator whose failed ambition prompt him to deliver his own brand of justice.

With such rich character material it is disappointing that the team behind the film traded some of this potential depth for action. This being said, the execution of the impressive chase pieces and the atmospheric use of Cairo’s gritty locations marks out debut film director Ahmad Moussa as a serious new talent.

He is however, let down by a lumpy script from Mohammed Bashir, which veers from shallowness to being overly-complicated. The film’s over-reliance on flashbacks becomes maddening by the sixth instalment, but with a sequel planned, there appears to be an opportunity to rectify shortcomings. Egyptian actor and comic Ahmed Helmy is in talks to appear as a possible villain in this one.

Huroob Ezterari is showing in UAE cinemas now.