Brian De Palma should have included a written disclaimer for his latest film, Redacted, informing viewers that they are watching a dramatization. That's what the film feels like--a Court TV reenactment of some salacious true crime.
It's bad. Badly written, badly directed and badly acted. It's as though De Palma's anger at the Bush administration for the invasion and occupation of Iraq has clouded his filmmaking judgment.
Based on a true case of American soldiers' rape of a teenage girl and murder of her and her family, Redacted's device is that the entire movie is seen through various lenses, literally--via the soldier who's an aspiring filmmaker, a French news crew, terrorist Internet video makers, military surveillance cameras and online video diaries.
It's an interesting idea, but it doesn't work due to the embarrassingly melodramatic script. The five soldiers are standard war-movie caricatures: beady-eyed psycho, check; dumb fatso who follows the psycho, check; useless intellectual, check; disillusioned everyman with a conscience, check; dispassionate narrator who says his camera never lies, check. It's a clumsy, paint-by-numbers story of good vs. evil during wartime. If that's what you're after, rent Platoon.
If De Palma's mission was to foment protest against the war, he should have made a documentary about how we got into it and the human toll it's taken, or documented the true story upon which Redacted is based. The best that can be said is that Redacted worked Bill O'Reilly into a hysterical lather, something so easily done.