In his new film, al-Waad (The Promise) it appears that Wahid Hamed, the screen writer famous for his mastery in weaving ideas and events into screenplays of well-knit dramas, has attempted to present a humanitarian philosophical concept in a commercial framework. This leaves the viewer with a sense that the film is divided into two parts the first of which is a first-rate cinematic experience while the second part is more like a film that was made to be a quick box-office success.
The film begins with an encounter between a professional killer, Youssef—played by the star actor Mahmoud Yassin—who belongs to a mysterious gang, and a new member in the gang called Adel played by Asser Yassin. It is Asser’s first leading role and he plays it sensitively and skilfully. Youssef suffers from terminal cancer and is on the threshold of death. In his last days, he talks like a philosopher who has experienced the different facets of life and knows all about evil and good. He becomes friendly with Adel, telling him about life and giving him some good pieces of advice. He asks Adel to bury him on the peak of a hill viewing the sea. When Adel is surprised at the demand, Youssef says “I have not lived my life up to my expectations; I at least wish to be buried as I wish.”
In the course of discussing the details of the burial, Adel is stunned to discover that Youssef is a Christian—Muslims and Christians have different burial customs. It has to go to Hamed’s credit that up to this point the viewer cannot tell anything about any of the characters’ religion, which is the case in real life where people do not go about wearing their religions on their sleeves. Hamed’s characters are normal human types; in real life there are no pure angels or full devils among human beings.
In course Youssef dies and Adel has to go to church for advice to find an undertaker, who is played by Ahmed Azmy. They become friends and co-operate to bury Youssef according to his wishes.
After the scene of Youssef’s burial, the film takes a very different turn. The gang conducts an intensive search for Adel who has stolen three million pounds from the gang and escapes to Morocco. Although the scenery in Morocco is beautiful, the chase looks very naïve especially when the members of the gang attack many houses in their quest to catch Adel, but all of these houses are—for some inexplicable reason—empty of any inhabitants.
Adel returns back to Egypt and decides to take revenge on the gang’s leader with the help of the undertaker. They steal the beloved mare of the gang’s leader to force him to consent to Adel’s requests. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, the viewer sees the police invade the place and arrest the head of the gang, which makes the scene look quite ridiculously unreasonable.
Although there were several gaps in the screenplay and some events were not reasonable, the actors performed brilliantly. The film discovered the acting talent of the pop star Ruby who played the role of a night club hostess who is hired by the gang to observe and monitor the new member but falls in love with him. Ruby plays her role spontaneously and charmingly. Photographer Mohsen Ahmed succeeded in presenting moving images especially in the first part of the film. The music reflected the deep and intuitive meanings in the film.