Review: Redacted [2007] - dir. Brian DePalma

Director Brian De Palma, whose CASUALTIES OF WAR addressed a horrific tragedy that occurred during the Vietnam war, turns his attention to Iraq with an unfortunately similar tale. Inspired by true events, REDACTED follows a group of soldiers who are stationed at a checkpoint in Iraq. Angel Salazar (Izzy Diaz) is an aspiring filmmaker who is intent on capturing his experience on videotape.

His fellow soldiers Reno Flake (Patrick Carroll), Lawyer McCoy (Rob Devaney), and Gabe Blix (Kel O’Neill)--seem to be surprisingly well-adjusted at first, but it isn't long before their true colours come through. When Reno decides to get drunk and harass an Iraqi family, the situation devolves into rape and murder, putting an incredible strain on Lawyer, who wants to expose Reno but doesn’t want to rat out a fellow soldier.
This film is very much a hit and miss affair (much like the average Iraq bombing !), universally panned by the conservative press, some even dubbing DePalma as a traitor to his country, this film is in no way a failure at getting the message across. What Casualties of War did for the Vietnam conflict Redacted pretty much does the same for the Iraq situation, but this time without the well known cast and slick Hollywood visuals.

DePalma has always been a technically magnificent stylist, much in the style of Hitchcock, from his earliest thriller outings (Carrie, Dressed to Kill) through to his later 'in favour' blockbusters (Scarface, The Untouchables), he has always had an amazing eye for the 'set-piece' moment. Sadly after falling from Hollwood's graces with Bonfire of the Vanities he has never really recovered fully from the stigma of being a 'Another Cimino', all that aside Redacted recaptures much of his daring experimental side so favoured by his early work.

As the title implies the movie is awash with editing in which multiple sources are combined, from handheld DV through to broadcast quality hi-def via a series of 'captured' moments from Internet streaming news, broadcast bulletins, web videos and CCTV footage (be warned not all of these work, case in point, the web videos seem contrived and overacted, all would have worked better if he could have got the actual YouTube site to allow him to use their branding) that all juxtapose allowing the viewer to get the whole story, much like a good journalist doing his research. The concept is smart, the execution is good, the acting at times amazing, at others pitiful, and an ending that will most surely disappoint, but much like Hitchcock, Argento and the ilk, this film is a visceral, visual experience, sometimes harrowing, other times ludicrous.

Don't dismiss this as another 'Iraq War' movie, this heads above Home of the Brave and even makes Jarhead look pedestrian, and don't vilify or condemn DePalma, just accept him for what he is, an accomplished film maker who is still willing to take some risks.


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