Battle For Haditha (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner01/02/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Impressively directed, superbly acted docu-drama that delivers a powerful message.

What's it all about?
Directed by Nick Broomfield, Battle for Haditha is based on a 2005 incident in which US soldiers killed 24 Iraqi civilians (including women and children) in retaliation for a roadside bombing attack that killed one of their men. The incident was subsequently covered up, with the Marines claiming that the dead were enemy combatants.

Using a cast of non-professional actors, including several ex-Marines, Broomfield focuses on three distinct groups: the group of Marines, led by Corporal Ramirez (Elliot Ruiz); two secular Muslims (Oliver Bytrus and Falah Abraheem Flayeh) who agree to plant a roadside bomb out of frustration at their country's continued occupation; and an Iraqi couple (Yasmine Hanani and Duraid A Ghaieb) who decide to continue with their family celebration, in defiance of the violence that's erupting on their doorstep.

The Good
The non-professional cast deliver fantastic, naturalistic performances and the documentary approach works extremely well, making the revenge scenes extraordinarily painful to watch. Broomfield also orchestrates some intensely suspenseful sequences as we wait first for the bomb to go off and then for the inevitable retaliation.

Despite the ensuing cover-up, Broomfield is careful not to demonise the Marines themselves; it's clear he believes that they are also victims in their own way. It's also clear who Broomfield thinks the real villains are: the Insurgents co-opting local mercenaries and using atrocities as propaganda on one side and the behind-the-scenes officers who order the retaliation and then make scapegoats out of the rank-and-file soldiers. (Just to hammer it home, a sinister-looking actor is seen giving the orders and then presiding over the court martial.)

The Great
Broomfield's balanced approach packs a powerful message, despite the occasional heavy-handedness of scenes involving the insurgents and the officers.

Worth seeing?
Battle for Haditha is actually getting a TV premiere within the next couple of months but it's well worth catching on the big screen. Recommended.

Battle For Haditha has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 00:50

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