The phrase ‘fictional documentary’ rarely inspires confidence so applying that term to a film concerning the Iraq conflict (yes, yet another) inspires dread. With a catalogue of visceral filmmaking behind him, Brian De Palma clearly wasn’t going to shy away from the horrors of war. Redacted’s intensity is like a gaping chasm of dread; the human suffering is palpable, the sudden savagery of war shockingly immediate. That such a horrific scenario is made all the worse by communication breakdowns and placed in the responsibility of people who appear not to have been prepared for the challenges they will face is the film’s central strength.
Yet something doesn’t quite connect. The acting is at times undeniably shabby and the central plotline almost exploitative in failing to address the fact that the reality that it is based on has reached a conclusion. Regardless, Redacted’s most sickeningly real shots will remain embedded in the viewer’s consciousness.