Director Pushes Envelope and Agenda in Redacted
- Friday, February 22, 2008
DVD Release Date: February 18, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: November 16, 2007
Rating: R (for strong violent content including a rape, pervasive language and some sexual references/images)
Run Time: 92 min.
Director: Brian De Palma
Actors: Patrick Carroll, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Kel O’Neil, Rob Devaney, Izzy Diaz, Mike Figueroa, Ty Jones and Eric Anderson
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following review contains discussion of adult subject matter that is not appropriate for young readers. Parents, please exercise caution.
It’s 2006 and thousands of American soldiers are in Iraq, fighting the Global War on Terror. Among them are Reno “Flake” (Patrick Carroll), Rush (Daniel Stewart Sherman), Gabe Blix (Kel O’Neil), Lawyer “Coy” McCoy (Rob Devaney), Angel “Sallie” Salazar (Izzy Diaz), Sergeant Vazques (Mike Figueroa), Master Sergeant Sweet (Ty Jones) and their battalion commander, Col. Eric “Happy” Anderson (Eric Anderson)—all members of the U.S. Army.
“Sallie” is filming the experience in the hopes of someday getting into film school. But thus far, his squadron’s deployment has been very “underwhelming.” All that changes when a vehicle refuses to stop at their checkpoint one day. The soldiers scream at the driver, but ultimately Flake is forced to fire on the vehicle. He kills a young pregnant woman, who was being is rushed to the hospital by her brother.
Soon after, insurgents plant an improvised explosive device (I.E.D.) near the American camp, which kills one of their men. After the incident, a group gets drunk and raids a civilian home. Two soldiers brutally rape a teenage girl. Ignoring their desperate cries for mercy, they then murder her mother, baby brother and grandfather. Sallie films the entire incident, which is later explained by an Arabic-speaking soldier. “Iraqis don’t understand our hand signals,” he says—as if that explains why some continue speeding through a military checkpoint as dozens of rifle-toting troops scream and rush the car.
The perpetrators cover up their crime with intimidation and threats, but soon Sallie and Coy feel the pressure and begin to talk. “Just because you’re watching doesn’t mean you’re not a part of it,” Sallie cries, in a rare moment of remorse. Unfortunately, it comes too late to halt yet another savage murder.
This cry is the crux of Redacted, which takes its plot from a recent incident in Iraq. Although a feature film, it intentionally looks like a homemade movie—actually, a hodgepodge of videos told through the lenses of different cameras. Brian De Palma (The Black Dahlia) loves to push the cinematic envelope, and this project is no different, both in form and content. Here, the talented director is toying with the medium in order to make a statement about it. He’s also very, very angry about the war.
The dominant lens is Sallie’s hand-held, omnipresent camcorder, along with a (pseudo) French documentary, Arab newscasts, a grainy security camera, video blogs and even a terrorist Webcam. It’s an impressive effort that gives the film an edgy feel. It’s also a statement about the many different perspectives on the war. Through these lenses, we’re escorted into not only the soldiers’ world but also that of Iraqi civilians and, for brief instances, even that of the terrorists.
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