Review: Dirty Wars
Following a war journalist who has been investigating the covert wars American has waged over the last decade, Rick Rowley’s documentary looks at the Joint Special Operations Command and the unreported raids and deaths by the American government.
Who’s in It?
Jeremy Scahill is the intrepid investigative reporter and author we follow in this film written by Scahill and based on his book: Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.
When the chilling revelations, surprising comments, and powerful questions that this film often offers subside, it’s often easy to forget it’s a documentary and not a fictional film. It’s cinematographic noir look, evoking war and terrorist movies of the recent past – Zero Dark Thirty, The Kingdom – both enhances the film and detracts from a film that is at times unnerving in its content by unyielding in its style.
Before all of that, however, it is never in doubt now nor was it ever that what Jeremy Scahill is doing is both dangerous and impressive. An investigative journalist and reporter for The Nation that brought to light in 2007 the operations and activities of Blackwater, a private mercenary force, Scahill has championed full disclosure in the American military and sought to uncover the truth about U.S. activities in the Middle East since war was waged a decade ago.
Scahill himself rose to prominence following his publication on Blackwater, doing the rounds on political shows , and trumpeted a cause that many ignored, more shot down, and some even tried to stymie. He is the center of Rowley’s Dirty Wars, a grim, tense, and biased look at America’s secret affairs, spurred on by the story of an American raid killing an Afghani officer trained by the U.S. and two pregnant women.
Scahill’s journey leads him to learn of the Joint Special Operations Commands, a covert military outfit that runs in Afghanistan, where war has been declared, and elsewhere in the world, where no such official wars are waged.
Shaky cams, sun-soaked lens, informants bathed in shadows, and ambiguous glares abound in this intense and decided film. Scahill narrates, and the director makes sure to catch him often on camera, nodding skeptically as he interviews Congressman and staring pensively while venturing into dangerous territory.
The film is indeed eye-opening, and Scahill is intrepid, talented, and seemingly alone fighting this quest for truth. It a somberly directed film on a somber subject, one that plays out as a drama for better or worse.
Should You See It?
Certainly not the most uplifting film out this summer, but it is important and worth talking about, so eventually, yes.
American politician on the deaths of two pregnant women in an American raid: “The fact they were pregnant is unfortunate….but I’ve been shot at by women…they die just like men do.”