Published Aug 25, 2011Never one for plausibility or subtlety, Renny Harlin's niche tends to be ridiculously bloated action films like Deep Blue Sea and Cliffhanger, where propulsion and kinetic shot composition mean more than integrity or a cohesive narrative. It's not a bad skill set to have, since every once in a while we all need to see gratuitous helicopter tracking shots, explosions and slow motion shootouts, but it's not really the best vision for a serious political war drama about the conflict between Russia and Georgia.
Opening similarly to Cliffhanger, American journalist Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend) winds up in the crossfire of the Iraqi conflict, losing his girlfriend (Heather Graham) to stray bullets. Jump a few years ahead and add some resultant stoic angst and Thomas is again embroiled in a battle zone, covering the first week of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war with drunken cameraman Sebastian (Richard Coyle) and war victim-cum-love-interest Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui) in tow, challenging his past demons and clichés with murky, or non-existent, accents.
Moving past the amusement of how vital it is to have an American perspective on a European issue, 5 Days of War is one of the most desultory war films in recent history, flippantly bouncing around between shootings and explosions with an MTV attention span and the characterizations of an early '90s erotic thriller. If weren't "based on" (exploiting) true events, it would almost be laughable when there are bloody slow motion shots of bullets passing through a bride following her wedding.
While there is a bit of misguided logic in ramping up the action and stylization of a moderately dry exercise in surface political didactics, it ultimately just comes off as tacky and puerile, missing its own point of trying to get news of atrocities out to an indifferent world.
What's more is that Andy Garcia's depiction of the Georgian president (dreadful accent in tow) and Val Kilmer's inexplicable presence are so bizarrely integrated that it's nearly impossible to interpret this as a legitimate text. (Anchor Bay)