Uneven Iraq War Drama from Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma has quite an impressive resume which includes such well-received hits as Scarface, Mission Impossible, The Untouchables, Snake Eyes, Carlito’s Way, Carrie, Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia. Redacted represents a significant departure for the legendary director generally associated with the stylized suspense genre.
It appears that De Palma is just the latest moviemaker eager to foist a heavy-handed anti-war picture on the public, and frankly some of these shrill screeds are starting to look silly. Shot pseudo-documentary style, but based on actual events, the film is essentially a loosely-connected series of montages revolving around a squad of six GIs manning a roadside checkpoint in Iraq.
The explanation for our being afforded an intimate peek at the soldiers’ mental mindset is that one of them, Angel (Izzy Diaz), has taken to videotaping their day-to-day lives with a hand-held camcorder. This dirty half-dozen is comprised of familiar war flick archetypes, ranging from the grizzled sergeant (Ty Jones) to the bespectacled nerd (Kel O’Neill) to macho dudes in a loose mood (Daniel Stewart Sherman and Patrick Carroll) to the tortured soul (Rob Devaney) with a still-functioning conscience.
The plot thickens when a couple members of the company (Guess who?) become horny and depraved enough to contemplate conspiring to commit a rape of a 14 year-old girl. However, the sexual assault goes horribly wrong and leads to their not only murdering the girl but her entire family as well. Of course, the good ole boys responsible cover up the atrocity and prove quite capable of returning to the posts business as usual, thereby delivering the sobering message that America’s Generation Kill sees the Iraqis they came to save as less than human.
Unfortunately, Redacted’s acting is so godawful, laughably unconvincing at every turn, and its editing is so haphazard that it looks more like a student film in progress than a legit feature. Who knows what the explanation might be for such a mediocre showing?
Perhaps De Palma was too blinded by his undoubtedly fervent feelings about the Bush Administration’s bungling of the invasion and occupation to make an honest appraisal of his message movie’s abundance of technical flaws. Regardless, this unfortunate outing is destined to leave an embarrassing blemish on what has generally been a stellar body of work.