You might not expect a Thai action film of high jinks and criminal capers to repeatedly reference Qur’anic and Islamic sources in its storytelling, but the feature film Adam from director Hamezi Akeyrat does exactly that. If you’re tired of worn out tropes and predictable storylines, get ready for an unexpected and zany mix of abductions, shootouts, science fiction, jinn and black magic that is decidedly not for the faint-hearted.
Adam is a 2017 Thai film, a fast-paced action feature focused on a father trying to get home to his sick daughter. Along the way he is held hostage and meets many colourful characters during his journey – his only hope of staying alive being his gift for storytelling. This film combines different tropes from many different genres including action, thriller and horror to create a unique viewing experience that never gets dull.
The film opens with Adam picking up a hitchhiker who holds him hostage allowing him to keep his life in return for stories. Whilst Adam drives, he tells his captor stories inspired by the parables of the holy Quran filled with moral and spiritual lessons in a bid to appeal to his captor. Adam’s strong moral compass and his ability to see the world from another perspective are what allow him to survive. He spins tales full of characters who are forced to confront their own misconceptions and hubris in the face of spiritual truth in hopes his captor will allow him to return home and save his daughter’s life.
This film’s language interchanges between Thai and English whilst featuring short stories set all over the world to illustrate the breadth of the influence of the Quran. The intersection between well-recognised Hollywood tropes and genres and religion encourages the discussion of the importance of spirituality and Islamic knowledge into the modern day. Adam also achieves this through offering social commentary about Muslim issues in the real world, continually referencing seminal moments in contemporary Islamic history such as the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.
These stories all deal with the moral implications of the character’s decisions and how the lessons of Islam are our only guidance in truly distressing situations. Whether or not our characters heed this sacred advice is often what seals their fate, mirroring the hostile situation taking place in Adam’s car and how he and his daughter are at the mercy of his captor.
As the film progresses the different veins of the separate narratives start to come together, exposing a deeper truth at the heart of the narrative, that there are right and wrong choices and all humans are presented with decisions which they must make before it is too late. Whether this ultimatum is dependent on death, Doomsday or saving a loved one, the tension in this film and its many narrative threads is kept consistent throughout the story.
This film’s interesting use of cinematography draws the audience into this distinctive and highly stylised world of stories that Adam spins throughout the film. As our characters drive through the verdant Thai countryside the stories and reality become less discernible from each other as illustrated through an experimental use of colour and camera angles creating a highly engaging and enjoyable visual experience.
This film seamlessly combines multiple genres and its tropes to create a viewing experience that is truly unique. The episodic structure of the narrative ensures audiences will never lose interest and keeps viewers hooked. This feature is thoroughly entertaining, humorous and offbeat with the supernatural elements of the story making it perfect viewing for the upcoming months.
Not appropriate for younger viewers.
You may also enjoy the action film Ameen by the same director.