Serving as an advocacy film of unique power, detailing a series of blood-boiling accounts of rape incidents in the U.S. Military and debunking their self-purported image of having zero tolerance, Kirby Dick's expose on this shocking epidemic gives new meaning to the word infuriating.
The Invisible War deconstructs a broken system in dire need of modification from inside out, detailing the experiences of the many women and men in the military subjected not only to rape, but the degrading repercussions of an indifferent and often hostile administration unwilling to address the issue.
Kori Cioca (a U.S. Coast Guard seaman) sustained permanent injury from her aggressor when he punched her in the jaw for refusing to acquiesce to his sexual demands. Years later, having been expelled from the military, where her rapist continues to thrive, she can't even get disability coverage for the surgery to have her jaw repaired so that she can again eat solid foods. Add to this the aggressive PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicide attempts resulting from an experience that was dismissed by commanding officers and you get a sense of the sort of horrors unveiled within Dick's astounding documentary.
And Kori isn't the only victim, as we quickly learn when statistics point out that the 3,000-plus reported incidents of sexual assault in 2010 only scratch the surface when you consider that over 80-percent of incidents are never even reported. Other women describe being raped by their commanding officers and being discharged from the military for being considered to have committed adultery as a result, while Navy seaman recruit Hannah Sewell discusses being raped while still a virgin.
It's true that some of Dick's editing decisions and interview tactics are somewhat shady, ensuring that any military official with an opinion contradicting the perspective of change is drawn as either a moron or a villain, but the impetus of solidarity and courage amongst the mistreated remains solid. Their rage leaps from the screen, infecting the viewer with a necessary sense of shock and horror.
It's all you can do not to shout with frustration when rape in the military is eventually defined as a mere "workplace hazard." (Cinedigm)