Make no mistake, however.  Redacted is not a film for the faint of heart.  It’s an angry portrayal of wartime violence that is shocking, relentless and virtually impossible to watch without turning away.  It will offend many military members.  De Palma attempts to portray the soldiers as somewhat diverse (albeit clichéd), each with their own moral compass, although he never shows us a well-adjusted soldier or an ethical military parent.  A few are righteous (presumably by their absence); a few are straddling the fence.  And some, clearly, have flung their moral compass as far as possible. 

War is hell?  Indeed—especially for those unlucky enough to cross paths with the latter.  Clearly, De Palma seems to be saying, terrorism is a two-way street, and he also seems to believe that Americans are just as guilty as Al Qaeda.  This message is further hammered by the military’s supposed denial about the crime, which is pure fiction.  All of the soldiers involved in the real crime have been court-martialed.  Three are now serving long-term prison sentences.

In order to make his point, De Palma uses the usual misleading “soldier stereotypes.” The men’s barracks, for example, are filled with open displays pornography—something that is expressly forbidden and stridently enforced, with career-ending consequences, both at home and in deployment locations.  On one Middle Eastern base, for example, the decision was recently made to deny personal e-mail privileges to everyone rather than risk pornography access by a few.  That’s how seriously the military views pornography in real life.

Likewise, the soldiers chug booze like they’re stateside civilians.  The truth is that alcohol is a highly controlled substance in the war theatre and on nearby bases.  It’s therefore absurd to portray these men openly drinking from a liquor bottle while playing with pornographic cards, all within earshot of their commander.

De Palma’s other big message is about the media.  At what point, he asks, do they become accomplices for filming?  And at what point do we, for watching?  An excellent question to ponder, perhaps ironically, before viewing this film.

DVD EXTRAS:

  • “Higher Definition:” Redacted Episode
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Refugee Interviews
  • Photo Gallery

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Characters drink and smoke throughout film.
  • Language/Profanity:  Tremendous numbers of obscenities and profanities, some strong.  Also crude sexual slang and racial slurs.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Numerous sexual references, some illusions to sexual situations and one very graphic rape scene.  [A soldier holds up the covers of two pornographic magazines; soldiers repeatedly discuss their sexual appetites and ways in which to might fulfill them; a soldier gropes a young girl while doing a body search; soldiers play with a deck of “nude” playing cards; soldiers make course sexual comments about, then later rape a teenage girl.]
  • Violence:  Pregnant woman is shot and killed; child plants I.E.D.; soldier’s body explodes into pieces; a soldier is beheaded; soldiers shout and strong-arms another into compliance with a crime; soldier threatens another with a gun; teenage girl screams and begs for mercy while being brutally gang-raped; soldiers murder an entire family, including a young child (offscreen); lengthy montage of brutal, bloody photographs of war victims, including numerous babies and small children.