`SLEEPER CELL' BACK WITH MORE TERRORISM.
Just in time for the holidays comes another installment of Showtime's ``Sleeper Cell,'' this one subtitled ``American Terror,'' another nerve-rattling miniseries about fundamentalist Muslims plotting another strike against America and determined to trouble your sleep.
Michael Ealy returns as Darwyn, a Muslim FBI agent dispatched to infiltrate a terrorist cell in San Diego. It's a group prone to internal strife, with members including Mina (Thekla Reuten), a Dutch Muslim demolitions expert who lost her husband in Iraq, and Salim (Omid Abtahi), whose inability to reconcile his fundamentalist beliefs with his internal demons leads to an explosive temper.
Oded Fehr also returns, as Faris Al-Farik, the charismatic leader captured at the end of the previous series. Al-Farik withstands some brutal interrogation with grim bravado -- He warns his questioners, ``Your world is never going to be safe again until you make peace with Islam on our terms.''
But Al-Farik is too cagey and committed a villain to sit in a prison cell and serve as a punching bag for an entire miniseries, so a convenient, if dubious twist frees him to plot against America anew, and with an even fiercer vigor.
Once again, Darwyn must tread a fine line between serving his country and not tipping off his colleagues in the terrorist cell as to his true intentions while proceeding to facilitate the planned attack. This is made doubly tricky this time around, as he doesn't trust his case agent, Russell (Jay R. Ferguson), who in fact is working behind Darwyn's back, coaxing his girlfriend Gayle (Melissa Sagemiller) to find out and report what Darwyn might be withholding from his employers.
What made the first miniseries so riveting was the toe-to-toe confrontation between Darwyn and Al-Farik, between the conflicted righteous agent and the ingeniously charismatic madman. By definition, that dance cannot take place here, and this follow-up suffers a little in comparison.
It doesn't help that creators Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris feel compelled to insert some gratuitous sex and/or nudity within the first 10 minutes of each of the first six episodes in what feels like a synthetic effort to keep certain viewers engaged.
Still, the story manages a fairly sturdy job of connecting dots demonstrating how terrorists could go about the business of securing weapons for a horrifically deadly attack within our borders. Brutal and disturbing, ``Sleeper Cell: American Terror'' is a grim evocation of the enemy within.
David Kronke, (818) 713-3638
SLEEPER CELL: AMERICAN TERROR - Three stars
What: Eight-part sequel to last year's miniseries about the war on terror at home, with Michael Ealy as the Muslim FBI agent who infiltrates another domestic terror cell and Oded Fehr as the terrorist heading up another attack.
When: 9 and 11 tonight; subsequent episodes daily at 9 and 11 p.m. through Dec. 17.
In a nutshell: Sturdy, if at times a bit contrived.
Oded Fehr is terrorist leader Faris Al-Farik in ``Sleeper Cell: American Terror,'' starting tonight on Showtime.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Dec 10, 2006|
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