Based on Khaled Husseini's bestselling book, "Kite Runner" is a story of Afghanistan's collapse from the just before the Soviet invasion to the final indignities of Taliban rule fitted into the familiar outlines of, in no particular order, Boy Becomes A Man stories, Immigrant Life stories and Redeeming Old Sins stories. The familiarity is the whole point - i.e. to give a predominantly Western audience insight into an "alien" culture by way of paralells, but there's a line between 'familiar' and 'predictable' that it comes a little too close to crossing. All said, though, some fine acting and genuine heart make up for most of it.
By shorthand, it's the story of a friendship between two Afghan boys: Amir, a rich kid who wants to be a writer, and his best friend (and son of his father's servant) Hassan. Amir is a sensitive sort, while Hassan is a tough-hewn scrapper who does the fighting for both of them. When opportunity arises for Amir to return the favor and rescue Hassan from a horrible brutalization by a group of bullies, his cowardice gets the better of him. Hassan doesn't know, but Amir's guilt at his own failings leads him to cruelly drive his friend away rather than deal with the shame. Soon thereafter, Amir himself is driven away along with his father by the Soviets. He grows to maturity in America, marrying a fellow Afghan immigrant and doing his father proud as a college graduate, but his guilt gnaws at him still - until he gets an unexpected chance at real redemption... one that means journeying back to his homeland and facing down the merciless Taliban face-to-face.
Once you figure out the lesson the film wants Amir to learn, it's not hard to plot the course of events from there on out. But predictability is mostly forgivable here, since it's all so genuine-feeling and well put together... with the exception of Act 3, in which the circumstances of Amir's redemption seem to line up so perfectly it starts to feel FAR too serendipitous. It's not the definitive story of Afghan life before and after the fall it wants to be - that will be made much later, probably IN Afghanistan - but it's a fine try.
FINAL RATING: 7/10