The Cairo Conspiracy (2022)

March 31st, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Tarik Saleh; Cast: Tawfeek Barhom, Fares Fares, Mohammad Bakri, MakramKhoury, Mehdi Dehbi, Ramzi Choukair, Sherwan Haji; Sweden/Finland/France 2022, 126 min.

The Cairo Conspiracy is an ambitious thriller with strong affinities to John Le Carre’s novels, telling story of an innocent “Angel”, who falls prey to unholy machinations in the Al Azhar University in Cairo, the heart of Sunni Islam, in this increasingly damning but overlong portrait of corruption in the Egyptian capital.

Adam (Barhom) is a naïve fisherman whose life changes when he is selected to join the prestigious Al Azhar University in Cairo. Here he crosses paths with Zico (Dehbi), who delivers an enimatic message: “Your soul is pure, but every second in this place will corrupt it”. Zico should know, he is working for State Security agent Ibrahim (the reliable Fares Fares) and dies mysteriously before he can tell Adam more.

Adam then finds himself promoted as Zico’s successor in the grand conspiracy scheme, with the secret service trying to find an appropriate replacement when the Grand Iman dies. The most popular choice is “Blind” Sheikh Negm (Khoury), who is supports the Brotherhood, in the eyes of Ibrahim and his superior General Al Sakran (Bakri) a “terrorist”. Adam is then told to infiltrate the Jihadist cell, led by Solomon (Haji). But his bid to navigate the system could be tricky and precarious if he makes the wrong move. 

The placid setting of the mosque contrasts with the mayhem of the conspiracy. Fares is an ambivalent person: he seems to genuine, almost caring towards Adam. His superior General Al Sakran is made of sterner stuff: violence for him is simply a way of life. Adam is caught in the spider web of deceit as the plot closes in on him, well aware that running away will bring shame on his family.

Visually this is a rewarding experience, even the violent scenes are shot with a degree of poetic sensitivity. Apart from the length, the only point of criticism is Saleh’s failure to take sides: and this objectivity collides with the byzantine brutality engulfing the two sides of this power struggle.

The Swedish TV director has had a run of decent big screen features of late and this follow-up to the The Nile Hilton Incident and The Contractor won him Best Screenplay at Cannes Film Festival 2022. AS



Copyright © 2024 Filmuforia