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American Soldiers: A Day In Iraq

cast: Curtis Morgan, Zan Calabretta, Eddie Della Siepe, Rachael Ancheril, Michael Belisaro

director: Sidney J. Furie

99 minutes (15) 2005 widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail
[released 17 April]

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
American casualties in Iraq are at their highest since the war ended. American Soldiers (to give it its original, shortened title) is an account of one day in April 2004.

Like many based-on-fact films, war movies or otherwise, American Soldiers has two conflicting impulses. Firstly, it goes out of its way to look the part: unknown actors, time captions at intervals during the film, the typically yellowish tones of DV-shooting adding to the impression of a hot climate. (However, it's Hamilton, Ontario, standing in for Iraq, which explains why no-one seems to be sweating very much.) Greg Mellott's script deals in types, not characters: none of the men we see make much of an impression, and there's no real protagonist as such. The film is emphatically non-political, though you could easily argue that that is just as much a political stance as displayed by anything made by Michael Moore. American Soldiers never discusses the whys and wherefores of whether these men should be in Iraq at all, they just are, and the film is meant to convey a sense of what that's like. (It seems a very eventful day.) One soldier's more gung-ho moment will be balanced for another's wish for respect for a fallen or captured enemy.

American Soldiers is capably made by Canadian director Sidney J. Furie, who has had a wayward career: to Britain in the early 1960s with some interesting exercises in boundary-pushing realism such as During One Night and The Leather Boys, a classic with The Ipcress File which survives his penchant for outlandish camera angles, to Hollywood later in the decade, though since Superman IV in 1987, most of his films have gone straight to video or DVD in the UK. American Soldiers is no exception. It's a meat-and-potatoes B-grade war movie updated to a time, when there's no real demand for such things, and it never rises above the routine.
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