3 May 2014 | mugwamp-983
A review from the other side
Certainly a watchable movie at least. Could have been better. Still, I was drawn into the story and found it entertaining... Well rounded American boy finds himself in a rear echelon outfit in Iraq. Originally working in a motor pool. He hears the prison next door is short staffed and willing to take non military-police personnel as guards. It all becomes factual at that point, leading to a similar situation to the well known abuses and tell-all photos of the scandal we saw on every news channel back in the day.
The side stories are not developed enough and are too cliché'. It makes soldiers appear too emotionally fragile. There is a scene where one squad mate goes nuts, has a situational reaction, but its not believable. At least show the soldier getting a dear Jon letter on top of having financial stress, losing his home or something. But no, they make it look like rear echelon soldiers go nuts for no reason. They also do not develop the lead character's reason for volunteering for guard duty. Show these guys on the road dodging IED's, then it would make sense to volunteer as a guard in Abu Ghraib. These things need to be portrayed to the audience to make the movie believable.
The movie does not fall completely flat. What saves it is the relationship the character develops with one of the prisoners in the cell block he is guarding. There is also constant tension in the scenes within cell block, as the guard is alone with several prisoners. This keeps the viewer interested as the story progresses. The guard walks a fine line between maintaining control or becoming abusive.
I had no problem with the ending. Frankly I wondering where the real life news stories of Abu Ghraib were going to meet the fiction. Just as I said: Is this about the same Abu Ghraib? I had my answer.