22 March 2008

One veteran's review of 2007's anti-war movies

During 2007, three major "anti-war" movies were released. Over the past few months, I've made a concerted effort to watch all three movies because I thought it was appropriate to give them a fair shot.

The first movie I watched was Rendition (IMDB, Wikipedia). Rendition is a movie based on a true story of something called extraordinary rendition. This process is said to be rarely used, but no one really seems to know how often it is actually done. In this case, the man who was transferred was the wrong person, his name was mixed up with someone else (although in the movie, the man is made to be in "the wrong place at the wrong time").

It is easy to imagine how impersonal the process would be for some nameless terrorist. But in this case, the man has an American wife and a child. It is clear that this movie seeks to personalize the process. Most of the government officials stonewall the family and act as if they have no clue what is going on. In the end, I actually thought this was a pretty decent movie.

The second movie was Redacted (IMDB, Wikipedia). I refuse to give this movie any more than a few sentences. The acting was bad. The movie was generally horrible. And the movie itself was just a vehicle for anti-war politics. Regardless of your view of the Iraq War, this movie is not worth watching.

The third movie, which I just finished tonight, was In the Valley of Elah (IMDB, Wikipedia). Another movie based on a true story, it details the murder of a soldier after his return from Iraq, and focuses on PTSD suffered by soldiers in his unit and the military's seeming inability to properly treat them. The Valley of Elah, by the way, is where David defeated Goliath.

I liked this movie the best of the three. The only real problem I had was the last scene (I'll let you watch it and decide for yourself). Otherwise, I thought this was a thought-provoking film that really hit the nerve of an important issue. The treatment of soldiers and veterans returning from Iraq seems to be woefully poor among those with psychological programs that might not be evident a medical form.

In the end, I have to admit that I was mildly surprised that two of the three movies, despite being "anti-war", were actually decent movies. Rendition and In the Valley of Elah are worth watching. Even if you are hardcore anti-war, Redacted is just a bad movie that's not worth it.
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