Thursday, January 10, 2019

Movie Review: "22 July" (2018)

Director: Paul Greengrass
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 23 minutes

The story of Norway's worst terrorist attack where 77 people were murdered by a far-right white nationalist.

22 July 2018 Netflix movie
"There was so much shooting." (Image Source)
Writer/director Paul Greengrass seems to thrive in making movies about politically motivated tragedies that resulted in a massive loss of life. He has directed numerous films that deal with such incidents including "Bloody Sunday," which is about the massacre of Irish protesters by British troops on January 30th, 1972, "United 93," which is about United flight 93 that went down in Pensylvania during the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, and his latest tragedy-themed film "22 July." This film tells the story of a human piece of excrement who took it upon himself to bomb a government building, then proceeded to a summer camp where he gunned downed dozens of innocent teenagers. The film covers the attacks themselves, as well as the trial of the cowardly right-wing nazi shitbag (Anders Danielsen Lie) who, despite being a significant part of the story, we will not mention by name in this review. There is also a concurrent focus on one of the survivors, Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli), who survived multiple gunshot wounds and would go on to testify against his attacker in court.
22 July 2018 Netflix movie
"I'm the monster, and you get to go look inside my head." (Image Source)
The first 30-40 minutes of "22 July" are realistic and intense, and they do provide for some heartbreaking, nailbiting moments of tension and pain. These early moments focus on the attacks themselves, which means we see the bombing of the government building, as well as the murderer proceeding to an island summer camp where he then gunned down 69 innocent kids as they ran for their lives. The way the attack is depicted, however, makes it seems like the ordeal was over very quickly when in reality the attack at Ut√łya Island lasted well over an hour. Many fundamental details of what the victims did to survive this onslaught were left out of the screenplay, which is shocking considering how long it is. The main focus of the movie is on the aftermath of the attack and on the piece of shit murderer, his motivations, and his trial itself. In reality, we don't give a crap what legal loopholes his defense team tried to exploit. Considering the main thing the nazi antagonist asshole wanted was publicity and a platform and way to spread his message, Greengrass almost did him a favor by focusing so heavily on him as the subject of the film. We understand that the retelling of a horrific event like this one has to include the bad guy, but where a rational person will see his motivations and be disgusted by them, an irrational, easily manipulated person like the one who actually perpetrated the attack will see it as a win. As we mentioned, there is also a simultaneous focus Viljar Hanssen, a survivor with lasting traumas both physical and mental, but we feel like Greengrass failed to properly develop his storyline. It would have been much more beneficial to shift the attention to the survivors rather than stay focused on the perpetrator. Eventually, Hanssen does get his moment of heroism in front of his attacker, but it takes way too long to get to this point. As such, Viljar's speech, which is essentially the conclusion of the story, felt underwhelming when it came time for him to give it.
22 July 2018 Netflix movie
"Defending me will be the greatest thing you ever do." (Image Source)
Though there are excellent special effects and some engaging and heroic moments sprinkled throughout its vastly overlong runtime, we couldn't shake the feeling that we found "22 July" to be a little exploitative. It's not that filmmakers shouldn't make movies about historical events and tragedies, but Paul Greengrass loses the scope of this incident along the way, and we think he focuses way too much wrong parts of this real-life catastrophe.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.8/10
RT Rating: ~80%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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