Battle for Haditha – Review

Worth seeing: as a raw, honest and grounded examination of the brutality of war from a film-maker better known for his documentaries
Director:Nick Broomfield
Featuring:Elliot Ruiz, Matthew Knoll, Alysha Westlake, Andrew McLaren, Antonio Tostado, Danny Martinez, Eric Mehalacopoulos, Jase Wilette, Joe Chacon, Nick Shakoour, Thomas Hennessy, Tony Spencer, Vernon Gaines, Yasmine Hanani
Length:97 minutes
Certificate:15
Country:UK
Released:1st February 2008

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

In November 2005, a company of American marines were attacked by a group of insurgent fighters in the Iraqi town of Haditha.

One of them died and others were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded as their convoy drove past.

Shocked, desperate and completely unable to handle the situation, Corporal Ramirez leads his team in a bloody revenge, shooting and killing more than twenty Iraqis – all of them civilians living nearby – the insurgents who planted the bomb, of course, are long gone.

Broomfield’s docudrama examines the build-up to this tragic event and the way the marines, their bosses and the Iraqis – respond.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Broomfield’s latest foray into drama – after his recent Ghosts – again sees him use a cast of mostly amateurs to tell a real-life story.

His hand-held camera makes you feel like you’re watching a documentary and the real-life experiences of the former soldiers who take on the American roles adds to the sense that this really is how it might have been.

The lack of acting experience shows through from time to time, though, and the script contains rather too much exposition – as insurgents and soldiers discuss their motives among themselves.

But Broomfield’s raw and honest approach – examining equally the stress, inability to cope and resulting brutality of the soldiers, the ruthlessness of the insurgents, the desperation of the civilians caught in the middle – make it a fair and balanced insight into the horrors of war.

More precisely, it’s an examination of how specific events in war can get out of hand, rather than a call for an end to all wars, which makes it feel like it’s grounded in the real world, rather than the kind of idealised preaching we get from the likes of Michael Moore.