Why is it that every movie set in an Arab country, specifically Iraq, has to have sweeping aerial shots of a mosque during the morning call to prayer? Is it necessary for filmmakers to establish this as existing within the country? Can it not be relegated to simply occurring in the background during a scene instead of always standing out on its own? Obvious clichés such as these in Nick Broomfield’s technically polished yet meandering tale of an American marine massacre of an Iraqi family in the town of Haditha, make this film (itself part pseudo documentary) a dreary experience. Utilizing a cast of unknowns, some of whom were actual marines stationed in Iraq, ‘Battle for Haditha’ tries to focus on realism but falls flat in this attempt.
Like other films set in Iraq before it, the narrative suffers by being lost in the onslaught of footage about the war already seen on television. As a documentary it offers almost no new insights. The Iraqi’s attack the Americans in the name of religion while demanding the freedom of their country; the marines attack under the guise of self defense, though the film makes the actions of the soldiers seem unprovoked. What about this don’t we already know? Not helping matters are the stock of one dimensional soldiers, none of whom, save for one, have any real character or personality. To its credit, the centre piece of the film is a violent, jolting attack by the marines on mostly innocent civilians, but this comes far too late as a saving grace.
- by Faizan Rashid [Rated 2 out of 5]