I wasn’t exactly ‘anticipating it’, because of the mixed reviews, and fairly disappointing scores on both RottenTomatoes and Metacritic, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, this film, in all honesty, blew me away. The film is hard to sit through, and I did squirm twice during it. If you look up the film at Rotten Tomatoes, the quote right under the percentage is “Despite DePalma’s passion, the film suffers from stereotypical characters.”, and that is definitely something I’d disagree with. Of course a lot of war characters have similarities, and in that category this film is different, in the ways that it explores much deeper into the psyche of grunts, sargents and soldiers alike.
One of the most inconsistent directors in Brian DePalma, helmed the film, as well as wrote it. DePalma’s direction of this movie is far more gritty and honest than the rest of his entire filmography. Not only does his vision captivate you, with it’s perfect dexterity, but it also make you endure the entire, gut wrenching 90 minutes. Though the ninety minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, it certainly feels longer, for all the right reasons. Another interesting fact is that he had to use High Definition Cameras for the whole film, otherwise he wouldn’t of gotten the right production and backing for the film. His use of these cameras may have compromised his vision, but I think they were used perfectly. Anything other than these cameras used would’ve probably ruined the ‘reality’ of it all, in my opinion. If there’s a comeback to direction this year, it isn’t Sidney Lumet, but rather Brian DePalma
His take on this tragedy, writing wise, is just as good as his direction. A lot of realistic dialog. In my opinion the script was very ‘van sant’ like, in that it was realistic situations, with realistic character with dialog that fit perfectly in every moment. The heinousness of his ideas are both shocking and some how still tastefully done. Well not tasteful in the traditional sense, but done proper enough to be deemed ‘suitable’ and not ‘done in bad taste’. The situations, and fabricated truths the film perpetuates are perfect for the whole premise of the film; war brings out the good and evil in people. Truly an under appreciated masterpiece, in my honest opinion. Certainly DePalma’s best work.
The acting, alike the writing, is very real. The thought that DePalma had in casting fairly unknown actors to portray these roles was wonderful, because you never thought back on their previous roles, and went on about ‘how he could’ve done this better; see this film, etc’. A lot of the stronger male performances of the year come from this movie, and the characters these actors undertook worked perfectly for them. This film is certainly an ensemble piece, among other things.I felt that Mike Figueroa was very under used in his role as “Sgt. Vazques. He did a great job in his role, with almost nothing to work with. The sad thing was that he wasn’t exactly one of the ‘main’ characters, so he was very wasted. I think he should’ve gotten a bit more screen time than he had.
Ty Jones plays “Jim Sweet“, the Master Sergent of the infantry portrayed in the film. He is not unlike Jamie Foxx in Jarhead, with his foul mouth, foul, but yet truthful points. He spurs out his dialog with a lot of anger, and a lot of passion. A very fine performance from Mr. Jones, and I certainly hope he isn’t a ‘one trick pony’, and gets casted more now.
Kel O’Neill plays “Gabe Blix“, the ‘nerd’ of the group. Constantly reading, and very poetic in his speech at times. Very much unlike the rest of the characters. Again, he was only a ‘surface’ character, and didn’t have much to work with, except the occasional one scene with real ‘meaning’. He was very good as well, and had the film been longer (which I think it should have), he would’ve probably stood out much more.
I completely loved Izzy Diaz’s portrayal of “Angel Salazar“, who’s only reason for being involved in this war, is because he wants to go to a film school. He is the main reason for a lot of the ‘footage’ that the film has; shooting everything, every situation on his digital camera. This shows us a lot of the ‘surprising’ footage that you wouldn’t of seen otherwise. He is kind of a mix between a ‘surface’ character and a ‘meaningful’ character (not to say surface characters cannot have meaning), in that he emotes a lot, but doesn’t have a lot to work with. Just a bit more dialog for him to have worked with, and he probably would’ve made my top ten.
Rob Devaney plays “Lawyer McCoy“. His performance isn’t exactly glamorous or fantastically emoted, but he does a good job, because his character is meant to be the ‘subtle’ one of the cast. He does a very good job in this role, and he even looked like a typical soldier, which helped a lot in making me believe him. On a side note, he has the ‘money shot’ of the film, at the very end. Perfect scene to close the film.
Daniel Stewart Sherman plays “B.B Rush“, who is the most disturbed character of the film. He makes the character him. He makes you hate him as a person, which is phenomenal, because I’ve never felt this way about a performance since The Green Mile. Constantly unconscionable, and vividly vile, so many adjectives could describe this atrocious character. He had a lot to work with, being the main antagonist and all, which helped make his performance one of the best of the film.
The best performance in this movie comes from Patrick Carroll as “Reno Flake“, who has a lot of dialog, a lot of screen time, and a lot to work with. He has a two fantastic monologues nearing the end of the movie, which really made his performance stick out at the end. Up until that, he was a very arrogant character played increasingly better throughout the entirety. By the end, I was astonished at how well he went through the motions. The best performance of the film by far.
The technical aspects of the movie are very well done. As well done as any R rated war movie I’ve ever seen.The makeup is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. A lot of gruesome things for the makeup department to work with. From limbs laying everywhere, to deep wounds, to basically anything violent you could imagine.
The cinematography by Jonathon Cliff is very good. A lot of creative uses for the digital camera, as well as normal dolly tracking shots. The background in some of the scenes are breathtaking, but only a few scenes have such shots to drool over. There were also some very interesting choices for camera placements, and it all worked out wonderfully in the end. He’s quite a talented photographer, and I hope to see more of his work in the future.
The music used in the movie is very emotional and intense. Though it does get a little agitating at times, because it’s used a bit too much, it’s still very beautiful. Unfortunately, it is not original, and I do not know who composed it, so it isn’t eligible in the ‘original score’ category, and I cannot credit the composer.
Finally, the outstanding tech from the movie; the film editing. Oh my, was the camera ideas perfect. A lot of wonderful scenes, a lot of interesting uses of the internet for some scenes, and just… wow. I really don’t know how to explain film editing, but this film kept a rapid yet soft pace, and had wonderful angles and ‘re-uses’ of scenes. Excellent, excellent stuff.
Nominations for Redacted
Best Picture – (Three Way Tie for #1!)
Best Director – (#1!)
Best Original Screenplay – (#5)
Best Ensemble Cast – (#2)
Best Film Editing – (#1!)
Best Makeup – (#2)
Six Nominations and Three Wins
My Rating : 9/10