Sunday, September 28, 2014

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Dirty Wars" (2013)

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Movie"Dirty Wars"
Director: Rick Rowley
Year: 2013
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Jeremy Scahill is an investigative journalist trying to uncover the truth behind covert operations perpetrated by the United States military in the Middle East. He hopes to expose JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) and bring light to Special Forces operations that he believes caused the death of numerous civilians in countries with whom we aren't technically at war. 

I love a good documentary, in fact, it's one of my favorite genres. BigJ, not so much. It has to be a really critically acclaimed one for him to want to watch it. I agree, to an extent, a bad documentary can sour your opinion of the entire genre as a whole. While we have watched our fair share of war documentaries, many of which pertain to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "Dirty Wars" came with much acclaim, and even got nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars. Unfortunately, this just wasn't the best one we have ever seen. While investigative journalist, Jeremy Scahill, has a pleasant narrating voice and does his best to inform viewers about JSOC and the under the table operations going on in the Middle East, there are just too many shots of him looking longingly into the distance and pondering for his message to be anything more than a self-serving documentary. Though the subject matter of this documentary is compelling enough to merit such an investigation, he also seems a little bitter that JSOC chose to make it's operations public and was able to justify it's effort after they found and killed wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden. This single operation destroyed all of Scahill's efforts and single-handedly negated the point of his exposé a little bit.

The bottom line when we watch documentaries like this is: what is the government doing behind our backs and without our knowledge? The answer is probably a lot, since they have a knack for doing shady dealings under the darkened cover of night. We'll never get the full story on anything from the government, and this shouldn't be news to anyone. If an official stands up during a press conference and says "that's all we know," chances are, they know a hell of a lot more than what they are disclosing. The dealings of the government in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the whole of the Middle East are shady at best, but the problem we had with this documentary is that Scahill is made out to be some type of investigative hero for uncovering things that were eventually disclosed. The camera always had a way of focusing on him from wide shots far and away, silhouetted and inquisitive with no real point as to why they are doing it other than dramatic flair. He makes it a point to be continuously outraged and shocked by the goings on of the government, when they themselves voluntarily came out with information about JSOC, and if it's all a lie or a cover-up, that's neither here nor there, we guess.

We aren't in the government and probably never will be. We don't have any insider secrets and we won't be whistleblowers any time soon. We might watch the news, but it's all got a spin and it's all biased at the end of the day, so we'll never really know the truth, and that is what is so damn scary and frustrating. Though the immediate issues this documentary raises may be "solved" in part, there's another cover-up waiting to happen in the wings sometime in the near future. As for this documentary, some interesting questions were raised. Were the civilian casualties worth the outcome? Do the ends ultimately justify the means? The ends here were the killing of both Osama Bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, two of the most wanted terrorists in the world, but the means were that a lot of innocent people had to die to get to the place we are now; we also wound up circumventing our own ethical and moral codes and laws about killing American civilians without due process and in countries where we are not at war...yet. I have been called crazy and a conspiracy theorist by some for my thoughts about certain big-time events in our history, and you know what? After seeing this, I'm starting to think that I'm not so crazy after all.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Prisoners"

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