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Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Movie Rewind: DIRTY WARS (2013)

Director: Rick Rowley
Starring: Jeremy Scahill

American journalist and investigator Jeremy Scahill presents a very different view of the American involvement in the war overseas. His mission was to bring light and awareness to the "seen and unseen" things that may be hidden in plain sight or covered up by our military personnel. His first center of focus is on the military raids in Afghanistan. He defies his own safety by going past the certain safe zones NATO has mapped out while risking his life from being caught by Taliban forces. He states that the night belongs to the Taliban. He interviews local citizens about the American raid that killed innocent civilians including two pregnant women in Gardez. These raids were all part of a cover-up by the military and government. A local woman states, "They committed no sin and had no enemies."

The images and stories of these innocent people being gunned down for no apparent reason leaves haunting reminders in Scahill's mind about what may be happening behind closed doors. He sets out to uncover who was behind these raids as the information is not easily accessible. Scahill spends time tacking pictures to his wall, connecting the dots, and researching the faces of the men photographed from the raid. Scahill unmasks these men as being part of a covert ops group called JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, which at the time was not a household name. They were also in charge of airstrikes and killings in Yemen. The American soldiers and members of NATO went to extreme lengths to cover the casualties of their work, which also included U.S. citizens. The film takes an interesting spin when they reveal that JSOC was the group behind the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Scahill provides an upfront and close look on the global war on terror that he feels is spinning out of control. You do not see many American made movies that take this angle on our involvement in the war. Many films like Zero Dark Thirty or Lone Survivor provide a heroic look at our involvement in some of the various missions that have taken place. Scahill doesn't discredit the act of valor some of our troops go through, but wants to open our eyes to what is not being portrayed in the media. He is able to interview numerous individuals from the citizens of Gardez, members of the military, and pretty much anyone in between that has knowledge of some of the cover-up being done to hide the fact that innocent people are getting killed as part of our involvement on the war on terror.

Dirty Wars is the second of the five nominees for Best Documentary at the 2013 Academy Awards I have watched. Scahill based the film on his own book "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield". I applaud him for his probing and dangerous look into these dirty and secretive operations. He often puts himself in severely dangerous territory in order to interview civilians and get a first hand look at some of the destruction some of our missions have had on them. The film may be a bit hard to watch for some as there are images and videos of the some of the dead bodies of the subjects involved. He makes some pretty strong and blunt claims against the President and the decisions made by the White House and other military officials. Scahill's accounts are eye-opening to say the least and will spark controversy and debate. It makes you wonder how much the general public does or does not know about what really is going on behind closed doors.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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