Another anti war film to join the many already filmed. In such a field most ideas have already been explored. This one tries to be a bit different in having the subject of post traumatic stress syndrome a photographer instead of a soldier. Colin Farrell who is not a bad actor in the right roles, plays a war photographer covering the battle between Kurds and Iraqui forces in Kurdistan in 1988. The fighting is brutal and Farrell is in the thick of it. Without wishing to reveal too much of the plot, there is a traumatic incident involving himself and another photographer, that causes for want of better words a mental breakdown. On his return to his native Dublin he is a changed man who requires professional help in the shape of his girlfriends grandfather played by Christopher Lee. There is an interesting twist to the story at the end.
It should be said from the start that this is not a big budget movie, so the action is very limited. Thankfully it is devoid of CGI which makes a pleasant change these days. The film starts off interestingly with a series of flashbacks in Kurdistan. We see the awful reality of war when a Doctor gives patients beyond help a mercy shot. Where is that one in the Hippocratic oath? Farrell sees most of the atrocities through his viewfinder but is gradually consumed by the madness. These are promising building blocks for a good film, but things go astray on Farrell's return home. The story then quickly begins to lose its way. Christopher Lee is brought in for very little reason at all, and the Spanish civil war sub story is just confusing nonsense. Keep it simple Simon!
There was a great opportunity to flesh out Farrell's psychological problems which is completely lost. Look at that wonderful film "Regeneration", to see how that should be done, and if you want to go the whole hog read Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy and you will be an expert on the subject! The film also loses some plausibility with Farrell's ability to take photographs that make Robert Capa's famous 'Falling soldier' photo taken during the Spanish Civil War look like the work of a complete amateur. Would a Kurdish doctor really allow a photographer to blithely snap shots of him engaged in mercy killings? I think not! The acting is not bad, and Farrell should be commended for his weight loss, which did make him look the part. Christopher Lee gives a strange Spanish accent whilst the beautiful Spanish actress Paz Vega gives a better one. Miss Vega looked like a tropical bird that had suddenly landed on the rainy streets of Dublin, such was her surreal beauty. The film was made not a million miles from where she was born, which must have been an attraction for her. Although well meaning the film is nowhere near as powerful as the director Danis Tanovic's previous fine effort "No Mans Land". For much of the running time it is a dull plodding affair. It tells us little new, and as such become yet more average fodder.