dirty wars 2013 review

Dirty Wars (2013) Review | Jamie Daily

Dirty Wars (2013)
86th Academy Awards 2014
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Documentary Feature (Jeremy ScahillRichard Rowley).
Watched April 18, 2014.


I am going to be honest–Dirty Wars is a hard movie to review.  I wasn’t the biggest fan.  This documentary following an investigative journalist, Jeremy Scahill, as he looks into America’s covert war tactics, is dry and boring, despite its subject matter.


The narration is probably what I had the most trouble with.  The unemotional, read off a page with little to no vocal inflection diction was the biggest distraction that this film did not need.  Its subject matter is provocative.  It should be interesting, and either revealing or infuriating, depending on which side of the Us War On Terror fence you are on opinion wise.  Instead, I just found myself being angry with the narrator and so distracted that I could not be pulled into the story.


Objectively, there are some interesting investigations in supposedly some of the most dangerous areas in the middle east.  Before Seal Team 6 became famous for taking out Osama bin Laden, they were almost completely under the radar until Scahill found them.  He speaks about US cover ups, operations gone south, and civilians who should not have been killed.


I wonder, had the narration been up to scratch, would the film be convincing?  I didn’t jump the fence, so to say, but had the narration been less distracting, I may have felt up to researching further.  Paradise Lost: Purgatory 3, for example, was incredibly convincing without further investigation, albeit about a matter I knew nothing about before hand.  A documentary like Dirty Wars needs to be absolutely groundbreaking if it wants to convince the American public, who have probably already made up their minds about the war and the military, one way or the other.


The style of the film is reminiscent of Kony 2012.  It is perhaps geared at a younger audience, but I disliked the doctored images.  Everything together felt extremely amateur and weightless.  Something that should be emotionally charged at the same time as being informative was anything but.


I am pretty unimpressed with this nomination.  If it sounds interesting to you, go for it.  Otherwise I would recommend you find something else to watch tonight.


These are my opinions of the filmmaking itself.  I am not stating anything about the subject matter, but the story telling, filmmaking, and postproduction are what I am reviewing here.