Redacted (De Palma, 2007)

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If Brian De Palma spent more time thinking about how cinema can document the way new media enhances and changes point of view and less time sensationalizing the subject, his film Redacted might have had more resonance. Shot entirely on DV via blogs, online video, MiniDV cam, and security camera’s, Redacted charts the story of a cliched bunch of U.S. soldiers stationed in Samara, Iraq, manning a volatile checkpoint outside the city. Seemingly too bored, drunk, and stupid to care about the ramifications of their actions, a couple of G.I.’s decide to rape and kill a 15 year old girl. De Palma is obviously revisiting the themes of his earlier Vietnam War film Casualties of War, but where that film embraces cinematic movement and style to comment on the psychological horrors of combat, Redacted brazenly adopts an incoherent blend of modern technology to show the discombobulated effect these tools have on soldiers today. The result is a jarring, amateurish take on the extremes of the situations in Iraq, neither adding new insight to the discussion nor adhering to the Bush Administration’s equally idiotic status quo of operations.  With Redacted and its over-the-top credo on Military operations, De Palma thinks he’s making a bold and risky statement on the role of communication in today’s war torn world. Instead, he’s made a simplistic, forceful, and trying film that dismisses the brutal complexities of the region and gives plenty of ammunition to the right wing electorate hoping, wishing, and praying for some liberal filmmaker to outwit themselves. In that, De Palma has succeeded.

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