Friday, August 19, 2011

5 Days of War Movie Review

Emmanuelle Chriqui & Rupert Friend (r) star in 5 Days of War

Five Days of War: Five Days Too Long

War is hell... and sometimes, so are its movies. For every Platoon or Black Hawk Down, there’s an Attack Force (with Steven Seagal) or the star studded-dud 5 Days of War from director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) It’s hard to knock a film with a budget just north of $10 million, but costly CGI & explosions notwithstanding, it doesn’t cost that much to write a decent line or two... or pull off a semi-authentic accent.

I’m no stranger to straight-to-DVD movies; I’ve (sadly) seen my fair share. 5 Days of August definitely qualifies as one... In fact, it was released on DVD and Blu-ray back in June. Why it’s popping up in theaters today is a mystery to me: It can’t be due to great demand.

Five Days of War actually starts a year earlier... in Iraq. It’s there that we meet the film’s stars, American reporter Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend) and his trusted cameraman Sebastian Ganz (Richard Coyle) Ganz is giving Anders a hard time about his purported relationship with fellow reporter Miriam (Heather Graham.) Graham’s Miriam gives as good as she takes, but the fun is interrupted by an Iraqi ambush: Miriam and their driver are killed, while Anders & Ganz are saved by Georgian peacekeepers.

Flash forward a year where we’re greeted by a noticeably heavy Val Kilmer... soaking in a bath tub via webcam. In order to convince Anders to join him in Georgia, he mozies up to the camera and delivers the following gem ‘I will dance for you.’ Hmm... No thanks Val. But sure enough, the very next scene shows Anders & Ganz smack dab in the middle of the fray. Evidently that Val must be one heck of a good dancer. Oddly enough, Val’s initial appearance made me laugh... enough to bump the film’s grade up to a D-. For the record, Val remains one of my favorite actors.

War is lurking between Russia and Georgia (or so we are reminded through several obvious history lessons between characters.) Naturally, Anders has to get the big scoop... or is it a scoop at all? As you may recall, a little thing called the Summer Olympics was going on around the same time as the conflict... pushing war to the back pages of the news. It doesn’t take long for our modern-day Woodward & Bernstein to find trouble. While attending a wedding, Russian fighter jets suddenly pop up and blow up the wedding. Ah... those damn Ruskies! Anders springs into action, choosing to save an old lady (a curious choice considering the severity of so many other injuries.) Anders & Ganz (someone has to film it, right?) take said old lady to the hospital, along with Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who just happens to speak English (and just happens to be the best looking girl at the wedding.) Judging by Anders’ method of prioritizing, I wouldn’t suggest a job as a medic... We don’t have room for the kid with his legs blown off... I need my cameraman and requisite hot chick. Great writing.

While the cast of ER is busy saving no one, Harlin shifts gears to the “war room” of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (Andy GarcĂ­a.) Yes, that Andy Garcia. Poor Andy: It’s almost laughable to see this once-great actor stumble through the worst Georgian accent next to... Chriqui’s. I suspect that being famous (Garcia) or hot (Chriqui) cuts you some slack. Thankfully, El Presidente has a team of experienced advisors to lean on during this trying time. Take a guess who his #1 guy is? His U.S. Press advisor played by Dean Cain (Go ahead and laugh, I know I did.)

Given its lengthy two hour runtime, I decided to bail out halfway through... reaching my boiling point when Anders, Ganz & Tatia caught up with the bride and her father from the other night. Get this... The bride was still wearing her blood-soaked wedding dress (how romantic.) Stranger still, is the way everyone embraces each other as though long lost friends... Anders & Ganz weren’t even invited to the wedding: Yes, Georgia has wedding crashers too.

I could go on and on, but why bother? Outside of terrible acting, cheap effects and even worse writing... Five Days of War comes across as a Georgian press release for what may have happened during the actual 11 day conflict. As the film’s opening frame states... The first casualty of war is truth. Unfortunately, in the case of Five Days of War, the second casualty is filmmaking itself.

Grade: D-