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Sleeper Cell ~ Season 1
As a praiseworthy effort to enlighten viewers about peaceful practice of the Muslim faith and lesser-known aspects of domestic terrorism, Sleeper Cell succeeds as a conventional thriller with its heart in the right place. Originally broadcast in late 2005, Showtimes's 10-hour limited series owes more to familiar Hollywood plotlines than to the precise realities of radical extremism, and authenticity frequently takes a backseat to well-crafted suspense. So, while it may not earn a high score in terms of absolute realism, the series works far better on an emotional level, beginning with the revelation that newly released prisoner Darwyn Al-Sayeed (Michael Ealy, from Barbershop and Their Eyes Were Watching God) is actually an undercover FBI agent and practicing Muslim, recruited to infiltrate a sleeper cell of Islamic radical extremists led by Farik (played by Israeli-born actor Oded Fehr, from The Mummy and The Mummy Returns), the mastermind of a Jihadist plot to detonate a chemical bomb in a crowded Los Angeles sports arena. Representing a broad spectrum of anti-American sentiments, Farik's band of holy warriors includes a hot-tempered Frenchman (Alex Nesic), a Bosnian chemist (Henri Lubatti), and a young, Berkeley-born American (Blake Shields) with a post-military beef against the U.S. government. While clandestinely reporting to his FBI handler (James LeGros), Darwyn is forced into deadly circumstances that continuously threaten to blow his cover and get him killed. His ill-advised romance with a single mother (Melissa Sagemiller) poses further threat to the integrity of his investigation, which ultimately involves everyone from local LAPD detectives to the senior staff of the White House.
As the terrorist plot unfolds, Sleeper Cell is by turns intense, dramatically involving, and philosophically illuminating as Darwyn struggles to reconcile his undercover activities (which connect him to murder, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, etc.) and his passionate devotion to Islam as a peaceful religion. With a number of Islamic consultants, writers, and directors, series creators Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (the team responsible for Bulletproof Monk) have admirably attempted to balance national fear of terrorism with a very sympathetic and positive depiction of the law-abiding Muslim majority. In a subtle but somewhat one-dimensional performance, Ealy conveys the spiritual anguish of Darwyn's stressful situation, while Fehr provides stark contrast, portraying Farik as a smart, charismatic source of constant threat, ruling over his fellow terrorists with passionate conviction. As the series nears its powerful two-hour finale, their clash of ideologies plays out like an above-average episode of 24, sharing elements of Reservoir Dogs as each isolated member of the sleeper cell nears his individual fate. With plenty of surprises along the way, Sleeper Cell grabs your attention and never lets go, even when you're aware that a real-life scenario would play by a different set of rules. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
Here you are able to see through all the incorrect media and see how really misguided these "holy warriors" are from the truth of Islam.
I am a convert to islam and would suggest this series to anyone intersted by the controversy that we are plagued with today. Peace be upon you.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This series would be successful as non-stop action drama worthy of the accolades of the "24" aficionados, but the writers of Sleeper Cell add another level to this white-knuckle series, the subtleties of extremism contrasted with the true religion of Islam. Darwyn is a committed Muslim, sorely tested in his role as informant, ever on the lookout for an opportunity to spread the true word of Islam as millions practice it in America, without the taint of fundamentalism. Whenever one of his "brothers" blurts a fanatical slogan, Darwyn is ready to clarify in the true words of the Quran. Farik, on the other hand, is firmly entrenched in his hatred of everything American, harboring no mercy for innocents in his pursuit of revenge. Speaking of his mission to a superior, Farik declares, "A man is not a Muslim until his tongue and his heart are submissive. If I fail again, you may take them both."
In one of the most affecting episodes, a soft-spoken sheik approaches a dedicated terrorist in a Yemen jail, armed only with his knowledge of the Quran. The questioning begins, "Brother, what is the greatest jihad?" When he hears the answer, "War with the infidels", this holy man explains the true nature of jihad, the battle within the self to become Allah's holy warrior. He teaches the extremist to go beyond the hatreds he has embraced, to discover the true meaning of his religion, to live his convictions. That such a terrorist can change is a tribute to the power of this religion. When the holy man travels to America to deliver a fatwa against any Al Qaeda operating in this country, Farik is charged with stopping him by any means; this fatwa would render a death blow to the entire endeavor. With his usual canniness, Farik chooses Christian to do the deed, the one man who had sought a private meeting after hearing the sheik speak at the mosque.
In this riveting series, the terrorists move through the streets of LA with impunity, across the border to Mexico to tap financial resources from drug dealers and child purveyors, drive anthrax across the Canadian border into the States, and purchase explosives from White separatists with heroin. Meanwhile, the LAPD blunders into the middle of the FBI surveillance and Darwyn struggles to maintain his cover, until all converges in an explosive ending. Luan Gaines/ 2005.
The show follows Darwyn who is an undercover FBI agent who tries to get recruited into the Sleeper Cell, a terrorist organization run by Farik. Darwyn is recruited to help Farik and fellow Muslims Khashul, Tommy, and Iilija as they plan to set of a bomb in LA. Through the ten hour show Darwyn must perform gain Farik's trust by ways that aren't legal and raise the eyebrows of the FBI. He also is in a relationship with Gayle who slowly starts to uncover what Darwyn is doing when he is not around her. The show is similar to Over There in being about a current conflict in the U.S. but it deals with the terrorists and a lot of it focuses on Islam. The authentic Arabic dialogue adds to the glory of this show and I think the acting was excellent.
My only problem with Sleeper Cell is that it was only nine episodes. The finale left me craving for more and I'm glad this DVD is priced so well, so I can relive the adventure as many times as I want. I hope that they include the Sleeper Cell: Know Your Enemy documentary with it and the additional special features look good. This was a great mini-series and I highly recommend it.
SLEEPER CELL is a brave and intelligent show that delves into the grey areas and doesn't just look at the world in black and white, or good and bad. The show explores the reasons why the "terrorists" choose the path of Jihad, and also goes deeper into the lives of all of the characters to give us a better understanding of each one's personality. It also explains and teaches us about the rift that is within Islam, between those that wish for peace and say the Quran's true teaching is peace and love and those who wish to fight Jihad in the violent way.
This show manages to get a lot of points across and is handled with such sensitivity and compassion, I wish there would be more such shows on TV.
The cast is excellent, they all have a really good chemistry that makes you forget they are acting, which I think is the mark of a good production. Oded Fehr is just a tremendous actor, since The Mummy when he took on the small part of Ardeth Bay and created an unforgetable character. Michael Ealy slips seamlessly in this role, I cannot of anyone else who could have played Darwyn better, and Alex Nesic and Henri Lubatti make for great supporting characters.
The soundtrack is hauntingly good as well!
Its great to watch good intelligent TV, Sleeper Cell is such a breath of fresh air amongst all the other mind-numbing TV shows. Plus, it is such a riveting show that you keep on thinking about it, long after you've watched it. I'd give it 50 stars if I could.
I'd like to add that I was also surprised that the character Farik was played by an Israeli. I was really impressed!
I thank the writers of this show for being accurate conveying the message.
~ Michael Ealy - HOT :)
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