Review: 122 (2019)

122 Poster

In Egypt calling 122 is the equivalent of calling 911 in the US or 999 in the UK. From that, you may guess that 122 is an Egyptian film. And that it’s some kind of thriller. And you would be right on both counts.

Nasr (Ahmed Dawood) and Umnia (Amina Khalil) are in love, they’re married as well. The problem is since they couldn’t afford a proper wedding they snuck off and eloped. This is apparently quite scandalous in Egypt so they’re keeping it hidden until they can afford it. Unfortunately, Umnia has become pregnant, something even more scandalous for an unmarried woman.

In order to come up with the money quickly Nasr returns to his shady past, agreeing to transport a package of drugs for an old associate. Umnia insists on coming along. And when their car gets hit by a bus wakes up in intensive care in a hospital in the middle of nowhere. Nasr, she is told, died in the crash.

122 is only the second Egyptian film I’ve seen. The other being Warda, a found-footage tale of possession. And like that this is a variation on a common Western plot, organ harvesting. Something we’ve seen in films as diverse as Vitals and Pound Of Flesh.

122 C

Here the emphasis falls more on the action elements as Nasr tries to stay one step ahead of the psychotic Dr, Nabil (Tarek Lotfy). He’s the kind of villain who thinks nothing of killing his own people, let alone outsiders. When a suspicious cop (Muhammad Lutfi) turns up the tension is similarly turned up.

It’s all pretty familiar stuff from my point of view, though it might not be in its home country. But it is efficiently and entertainingly done. Writer Salah El Gehiny and director Yasir Al-Yasiri keep things interesting right down to the final twists. The subtitles might be a turnoff for some but overall I enjoyed 122.

I couldn’t find a subtitled trailer for 122, but this teaser has almost no dialogue anyway.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

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