A journalist is caught up in an undercover operation that becomes an online seduction in “Profile,” an intriguing, well-handled thriller that unfolds entirely on the computer screen of the protagonist.
Computer screen films have become their own mini-genre, 2018’s “Searching” being the most well-executed of the bunch. After a pandemic year where we’ve all gotten way more used to staring at computer screens, the field of computer movies may be primed to explode. At least “Profile” uses Skype and not Zoom.
Valene Kane plays Amy Whittaker, a journalist in London investigating ISIS’ recruitment of young women, particularly from Europe. She intends to make herself bait, essentially, by going online and finding someone to bring her into the fold. It’s not long after she creates a fake Facebook profile and begins liking and reposting a series of ISIS-supporting videos that she is contacted by Bilel (Shazad Latif), and thus the grooming begins.
Amy knows what’s at stake and what’s on the line. Presumably, as an accomplished journalist on a tight deadline (her editor Vick, played by Christine Adams, is always at her throat), she would know better than to get too deep or to develop personal feelings for Bilel. But “Profile” shows the intoxicating power of online connection and the way it feeds off of personal loneliness. It’s a game Bilel knows well, and that Amy is forced to learn the hard way.
“Profile” is directed by Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”), who scales down his usual visual bombast in favor of contained, psychological intrigue. The script takes some leaps that may give you pause, but Kane and Latif’s convincing, committed performances keep you logged on.
Rated R: for language throughout and some disturbing images
Running time: 105 minutes