A Punjabi woman who gets abducted by ISIS insurgents when they seize the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014. Jyoti is months into her new job as a supervisor at a garment factory during the siege.
Formally, Akelli is a survival thriller that behaves like an actioner. It wants to look real and gritty, but it also wants to be exciting and exploitative. It has that dull, dusty visual filter reserved for stories based in the Middle East.
Except the writing rarely allows the film to transcend its own genre baggage. Her time is dotted with bullets that contrive to miss her and men who make the worst decisions around her.
The biggest problem with Akelli is that it plays out like a video-game obstacle course. We get that Jyoti’s escape isn’t easy, but the film looks like several disparate movies stitched together with no connective tissue in between.
The bar is so low right now that Akelli feels middling by virtue of not being too tasteless. In a previous era, I’d have stated that it could have been better. But today, I believe it could have been worse.