Opens in theaters May 14th
“Profile” is an in-depth look at a female journalist in London who goes undercover. She goes in deep to find out about the on-line recruitment of young woman by hardened ISIS soldiers. These young girls and woman whom they befriend can become brides to the terrorists. Based on a true story, this is chilling tale of international intrigue and lies, all displayed on various on-line screens and devices.
Amy Whittaker (played by Valene Kane) is a free-lance writer for a London newspaper in 2014. Her contact there is an editor named Vicky (played by Christine Adams) who wants a big headline-grabbing story. Amy is low on cash but she has plenty of new ideas for juicy stories. Her boyfriend Matt (played by Morgan Watkins) thinks that they need to move in together: him, Amy and her dog. Amy decides to work on a major story about ISIS ‘child bride’ recruitment by setting herself up as bait.
Amy makes a fake Facebook profile for ‘Melody Nelson’ and claims to be a 20-year old and recent convert to Islam. She looks up and shares many violent ISIS videos, as a way to showing the world the true allegiance of ‘Melody’. She is quickly contacted by a former British-born ISIS soldier, now located in Syria. His name is Bilel (played by Shazad Latif), and he wants to impress ‘Melody’. Melody and Bilel do many Instant Messages and later video calls using Skype. Amy has gotten help from the newspaper in the form of an I.T. guy named Lou (played by Amir Rahimzadeh). ‘Melody’ is able record and also document all of the back-and-forth messaging.
Amy slowly becomes more invested as ‘Melody’, seeing that Bilel is a strong and handsome fellow. He talks up a pretty good game. His comments are impressive and he makes himself out to be a very important fighter for his cause. He brushes off any concern that many people are being brutally killed. ‘Melody’ does find this troublesome, but there is a big story to follow, and she will keep at it until the end.
Amy starts to lose contact with the normal people in her life. Vicky keeps pressing her to finish the story. Matt thinks she is getting over her head and will not find a way out. She cannot keep her dog, because the animal is ‘unclean’ to a Muslim. Her skills on the computer and the phone are OK, but she has trouble keeping her ‘Melody’ profile separate from her own life. Bilel is incredibly convincing in some things, and he is persistent that Melody needs to come to Syria to join him.
‘Melody’ becomes such a major part of Amy’s life that her reason to get the ‘story’ is pushed in back of her personal concern for the well-being of Bilel. At one point, when Bilel is out in the field, there is a massive explosion and she fears that he is dead. Her story will have come to an end, but she appears to be more upset that she will not be able to talk to her friend. Amy is about to upload one final article for the paper. But ‘Melody’ gets one more call from Bilel. Melody agrees to go to Amsterdam, then to Turkey — when she can meet Bilel and follow him into Syria.
What if Bilel and his crew determine that ‘Melody’ is just a setup? What if they learn more about Amy and the newspaper? Amy will get some threatening posts and calls. Not to her ‘Melody’ profile, but directed straight to her. Even though Amy has tried to keep these things private, they now know her true identity, right down to her London flat. So Amy must become invisible and start life with an assumed name and identity. To keep her out of harm’s way – she must take on a whole new “profile”.
“Profile” is a serious look at a serious situation that can prey on misguided youth. With a look and feel that is taken from common Internet utilities and tools, it shows how a person can be led into a dark place on the web. Valene Kane plays the journalist and Shazad Latif plays the charismatic ISIS recruiter. They both are really convincing in these roles, and the (virtual) interactions are always clouded with the potential for danger.
Since “Profile” is based on a true event, it is chilling to see that sometimes an online friend might hide a truly wicked intent. Be very careful about who you ‘friend’ online, it might be the last thing you do.
Opens in theaters May 14th
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Written by: Timur Bekmambetov, Britt Poulton, Olga Kharina
Based on: “In the Skin of a Jihadist” (by Anna Erelle)
Starring: Valene Kane, Shazad Latif, Christine Adams, Amir Rahimzadeh, Morgan Watkins
Music by: Andy Ross
Edited by: Andrey Shugaev
Distributed by: Focus Features
Release date: May 14, 2021
Length: 105 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some disturbing images
Genre: Real-Life Suspense