Directed by Brian De Palma
Written by Brian De Palma
Patrick Carroll as Reno Flake
Rob Devaney as Lawyer McCoy
Izzy Diaz as Angel Salazar
Mike Figueroa as Sgt. Vazques
Ty Jones as Msgt. Jim Sweet
Kel O'Neill as Gabe Blix
90 Minutes(Rated R for strong disturbing violent content including a rape, pervasive language and some sexual references/images)
"Redacted" is a film filled with many flaws. There are a quite a few. It is also somewhat full of itself, and if this film were any less subtle about the message its conveying it would be perfect for a kindergarten class. But somehow, and this doesn't surprise me, the audience at the New York Film Festival bought right into it, and leaving I overheard so many people calling it one of the best films they've seen, and the most powerful. I liked this movie-at times it was effective-but it was obvious, and the storytelling method that writer/director Brian de Palma ends up using to tell this anti-war story seemed only there half of the time, and it was a pretty lame way to tell the story in the first place. I haven't been a huge fan of Brian de Palma's past films-I hated "Scarface," and "The Black Dahlia," and only got mild enjoyment from "Femme Fatale," and only kind of liked "The Untouchables." At least here he works with a smaller budget and seems to actually be trying to produce something he cares about, but I just don't think he's a very good film maker-and certainly not good enough to receive a standing ovation after the movie.
The film takes place in Iraq, with a team of four soldiers as the focal point. The main one is Angel Salazar, played by Izzy Diaz, who wants to get into film school and signed up to the army to get in easier. He brought his camera, and seems to be trying to make a film. The group is stationed at checkpoint area in Iraq, where they search any cars that are trying to go in or out. Then we seem to shift gears, and the entire movie ends up being a mockumentary style film from France about the soldiers, using interviews, Angel's camera footage, and videos made from outsiders on a website that looks a lot like You Tube. Eventually two of the soldiers, after an incident involving the death of one of their own, decide to break into an Iraqi home one night and rape the young girls within. One of the other soldiers, a guy named Lawyer McCoy, decides to try and stop them, and Angel decides to go to get it all on film-to guarantee himself a spot in film school.
The mockumentary style got to me at times. First of all, it seemed a rather useless method to use, unless de Palma was trying to cross the United States and France for more political message purposes, but I didn't really see him as trying to do that. At times whenever a French woman narrator would speak there would be English subtitles, and at times whenever a United States soldier said something in English we would be treated to French subtitles. This was a distraction, and this method did not sit with me well at all. I did like the natural way in which the soldiers seemed to act, the camera often sitting down for a series of minutes-from the perspective of Angel's camera or security cameras all around the camp-and we would watch the scene unfold. The next to last scene, involving the two soldiers who committed the crime, is extremely well down and even creepy. As powerful as some of the scenes were-including the actually rape scene-at times de Palma was very "in your face" about what he was trying to say, and his whole message was pretty much handed to you on a silver platter. But strong anti-war people will eat this movie up, every second of it, however obvious it ends up being. It's a good film, but I have a feeling that it will end up be praised more highly than it should.
Before the film was a short film called "Cherries," another anti-war film, but a more deep and haunting one because it was less obvious. The film is directed by Tom Harper, and is about a group of rowdy London boys who get some shattering news from their headmaster, which will change their lives forever. At fifteen minutes this moved me more than "Redacted" did in its whole ninety minutes.