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117 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful film with mixed results
Before I begin my review I'm going to give you all my biases up front - I'm an American, I'm a Marine, and I served one tour in Anbar Province in 2007 with a rifle company. Many of my seniors served in the Haditha area and told many-a-tale about that awful place. Having gotten that out of the way, I really wanted to like this movie from the get-go. It obviously draws...
Published on 30 Oct 2008 by Justin

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars The acting is poor from the get go and as much as I ...
Really isn't worth your time. The acting is poor from the get go and as much as I tried to enjoy this, the acting just pales in comparison to other titles around this conflict (for example HBO's Generation Kill). As I said before, I really tried to enjoy this film (the scenes with the Iraqi civilians were actually the most enjoyable) I just couldn't.
Published 21 days ago by Mr. A. J. Wilson


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117 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful film with mixed results, 30 Oct 2008
By 
Justin (Columbia, MD USA) - See all my reviews
Before I begin my review I'm going to give you all my biases up front - I'm an American, I'm a Marine, and I served one tour in Anbar Province in 2007 with a rifle company. Many of my seniors served in the Haditha area and told many-a-tale about that awful place. Having gotten that out of the way, I really wanted to like this movie from the get-go. It obviously draws its inspiration from one of my favorite films, the Gillo Pontecorvo classic "The Battle For Algiers", where many of the characters (including the screenwriter) were insurgents in the conflict rather than professional actors. I've been pretty disgusted with the Iraq films and TV shows that have come out over the past few years. Shooting in the California desert with a bunch of Mexicans dressed up like Arabs is never going to cut the mustard. Iraq has its own look and feel, and the Iraqis have their own style, even compared to the rest of the Arab world.

So I was really excited when I read that "The Battle of Haditha" was shot in Jordan, which is about as close to Anbar as you can get without crossing the border, and used real Iraqis and former-US military personnel. I also liked that Broomfield let them ad-lib most of their lines, giving them a feel of authenticity that no scriptwriter ever can. Broomfield definitely sets standards that every subsequent Iraq film is going to have to live up to. I also liked the controversial topic - there's a reason counterinsurgencies are called "dirty wars" and the Iraqis definitely do an amazing job portraying the mixed loyalties and emotions of many Iraqis as they seek to make some sense out of what was - for many Sunnis - an occupation.

Unfortunately, the movie's portrayal of the Marine Corps runs into a brick wall that nearly sinks the whole picture. While I enjoyed Elliot Ruiz's haunted squad leader, none of the other characters looked or sounded like real Marines. In fact, many of them seemed to be acting out popular stereotypes of Marines based on recruiting commercials and "Full Metal Jacket" or "Jarhead", which is almost nothing like what they really are. With the exception of Ruiz, there was almost no character development among the Marines, no explanation of how an infantry unit operates (which is crucial to understanding why the Haditha killings played out the way they did). Broomfield also falls into the trap of using actors in their mid-to-late twenties to portray a bunch of kids fresh out of high school. One of the guys I went to Iraq with was born in 1989 and was 12 years old when 9/11 happened.

Speaking from my experience, the Marines in "The Battle of Haditha" look like a third-rate Iraqi Army unit fresh out of boot camp. They do not know how to: hold their weapons, conduct mounted or dismounted patrols, clear a room, tactically question Iraqis, maintain cover and concealment, return fire, or conduct a squad attack on the enemy. If such things don't concern you, then disregard what I've said, but this is a point of professional pride for me and I really wish Broomfield had been able to get a bunch of real grunts for his actors. When I tried to get my company to watch this as a training film, the other Marines honed right in on this problem and were worried that some of our new-joins would get the wrong impression of how to behave in a combat zone.

Maybe I'm the last person who should be reviewing this - maybe this film was made to explain what Iraq is like to people who have never been there. If that's your opinion, go see it. But it was not made for Iraq veterans. If that's what you want to see, I recommend the HBO "Generation Kill" series, which gets more of the technical details right.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speechless, 17 Mar 2008
By 
Jodi Swan "yodsteroony" (sussex) - See all my reviews
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From a director who is never afraid to tell it like it is comes a film which pulls no punches in showing us the war in Iraq is far from a simple case of the 'good' guys and the 'bad'. Motives are blurred and the true horror of the iraq war is vividly portrayed.
This is not an easy watch and I know there will be those who question it's intentions but 'Battle' is not an 'anti-war' film. We are presented with the fact that the soldiers as well as the terrorists are merely human and as such are prone to fear, anger, impukse and acts of horror. By carefully covering the events through three stories, Broomfield examines the events that led to the cause of the shootings as well as the after effects. A master at work, he goes to great detail to make it realistic. Whilst not reaching the gritiness of Paul Greengrass, there is no attempt to glamorise the events and the hand held camera work gets into the actors faces and places us at the centre of the events.
With great music and beautiful photography it is a harrowing but worthy pice of cinema which dares to tell it like it is.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work, 18 Mar 2008
By 
simonpeggfan (Maidenhead UK) - See all my reviews
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As a self-confessed fan of Nick Broomfield I was well aware of his ability to inform, entertain and challenge from his documentary films, however this magnificent film shows just what a great filmmaker he is.

With an unknown cast whose performances draw you into the film you'll be left feeling as if this could really be an accurate reflection of what might have happened.
And this is balanced - the only truly innocent people are the blameless civilians, everyone else is tainted, however much they feel they have their own reasons.

Fantastic, if ultimately somewhat depressing since it can't find solutions to the circle of violence - but a magnificent work!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too far in the other direction, but still a good watch., 16 Aug 2010
By 
The Truth "How it is" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I love a good war film, but quite often they're a little bit - how shall I put it? - U!S!A! - HOOOOORAH!!!

This film suffered from the opposite problem. It was too anti-American. It was a good film but the way it portrayed the 'terrorist' to be, I just didn't believe. It almost made them out to be some sort of Angels, tormented by the deaths they caused. I really don't believe the events and deaths of fellow Iraqis really weighs that heavily on your average insurgents conscience - something this film would have you believe it does, much more so than on your average American soldiers. Again I just don't believe that to be true. I'm sure the majority of troops on the ground do not enjoy the innocent blood-shed at least, that surrounds them.

On the whole though the film does give a good idea of the complexities faced by everyone on the ground in Iraq (as if I'd really know such a thing, but you know what I mean) showing the views of US Marines, your average Iraqi and the so called 'terrorists'.

The film is tense and the battle scene in Haditha good - I just felt that overall the film tried to make too much of a statement and because of that, it lost some credibility and realism with me. I'd also liked to have seen the film resolve a bit more, with some sort of comment on what happened to the soldiers involved after the incident came to light. I haven't watched the extras yet, so maybe I'll find that out in there.

I did find the film quite shocking, which is rare for me and it makes for an uncomfortable watch in places, and overall it's a pretty good film. However, I prefer The Hurt Locker by far - a different kettle of fish all together, I know, but hey if you want to watch a war film, I'd suggest you watch that.

If this review was helpful to you at all please give it the thumbs up. Cheers.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judge not, that ye be not judged, 6 Jun 2009
By 
R. Foster (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The anti-American shallowness of some reviews that I have read regarding this movie just about sums up the way the world is going. It would seem, according to one such reviewer, that the actions of the "American Pigs" in the Haditha incident were monstrous, and I would have to agree, but he fails to suggest that the ongoing actions of the Iraqi insurgents are equally so. I would propose that, whilst acknowledging the horror of such awful events, we do not condemn the individuals operating under such conditions unless we have personally experienced the same, and, as a result, can confidently say that we acted differently in those same circumstances. Can anybody know their immediate reaction to seeing their friend and comrade blown apart? It's all very well passing judgement from the comfort of our living rooms, but it is exactly that sort of reactionary condemnation that fuels hatred.

Of course, by the same token, should we really be surprised by the reaction of the ordinary Iraqi people following such events as those depicted in the film?

This film is excellent, though at times disturbing, and does not appear to pass judgement on those involved in the events in the same way as some reviewers. It is almost documentary-like in style, and shows the events quite even-handedly from both sides, clearly demonstrating the futility of this 'war'.

If we feel the need to criticise, or pass judgement, perhaps our comments should be directed at the politicians who sent the troops in, for their mishandling of the war, and not at the troops themselves.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, 19 Mar 2008
This is a superb movie.

As far as the cinematography goes, it is captured in a documentary style which gives it a heightened sense of realism and really draws you into the lives of the people potrayed.

It is a movie that perfectly illustrates the fact that there is good and bad on both sides in every large scale conflict.

It will be perceived by some as anti-American, but I don't see it that way at all.

It is an honest account of true and tragic events that reflect badly on humanity as a whole rather than any particular side.

Personally I haven't purchased it yet for the simple reason that I was fortunate enough to see it in HD and it was absolutely stunning.

Please, please release this on Blu-Ray. I'd make an immediate purchase.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and powerful., 25 Sep 2014
A real good watch. Camera work was excellent and it almost played out like a documentary. The acting was excellent, and the film tried to give a balanced view of events, The film allowed time to show the Iraq peoples dilemmas, and points of view. The events took time to unfold, but when they did it was shocking. There were some flaws in the film, and it never really reached a conclusion for me, but overall it was a very powerful piece of cinema.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't shoot!, 18 July 2010
Bloody, unforgiving and shocking account of the victims of war and those who participate in it. It should be viewed by anyone contemplating military service. It has a strong bond in a cinematic sense with the clips of real life warfare that can be found on youtube. I give it a tragically realistic 10/10.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A difficult, but necessary watch, 24 April 2008
By 
CJ (UK) - See all my reviews
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Based on true events, the Battle for Haditha brings to the screen the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians (allegedly murdered) by US Marines in Iraq a few years ago.

The film shows the build-up to the main event from both sides, but for me has a predominantly Iraqi angle. The marines are shown to be generally pumped up on adrenaline and therefore predisposed to aggression, which is what you would expect in a combat zone, but it does appear to limit the control they have over their actions.

The terrorists are thinly sketched (al-Qaeda is behind it all, that's about all you get), but the civilians caught in the middle are given enough character that you care for them, making the impending tragedy all the worse.

Ultimately, an American vehicle is destroyed by a roadside bomb, and the marines go on the rampage. The lack of command and control is frightening as generally anybody in the area not wearing a US uniform is gunned down. It's an uncomfortable and frightening thing to watch as the terrorists escape unscathed whilst the Iraqis living in the area have a terrible American revenge exacted upon them.

This is a movie that offers little hope. In one telling scene the terrorists are spotted by the locals burying the bomb in the road. They remark that if they tell the Americans, al-Qaeda will kill them. If they don't tell the Americans, the bomb will go off and the Americans will blame and punish them. Either way, they lose.

Whilst this is going on in the city, the local US general is sat in his air-conditioned bunker ordering air and artillery strikes on insurgent targets. At one point a man is blown to pieces because he is carrying a shovel as he walks along the road. It may be a scene purely intended for dramatic effect, but it is all too believable.

The film is well made, shot in a documentary style which is very effective. Performances are generally excellent by unknown actors (or ex-soldiers) and the whole is good to watch, however uncomfortable the subject matter may be. Perhaps Broomfield goes a little too far with the portrayal of the marines - the officers appear to be far too isolated to command effectively and a number of the soldiers come across as little more than animals. But I haven't been to Iraq, maybe it's realistic. I hope not, but I guess it's up to the viewer to decide.

By the end of Battle for Haditha, I could not sympathise with the Americans or the terrorists. The innocent people caught in the middle are those paying the price day in day out for the invasion and it's aftermath. This movie is only based on events and has undoubtedly taken a broad licence with the truth, but what is here is convincing enough to be a believable take on the day-to-day life in Iraq since the coalition saved the country from Saddam.

It's hard to watch, but if you have any interest in the ongoing conflict in Iraq, this is a must-see.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Battle for Haditha, 20 Nov 2009
Nick Broomfield directs a docu-drama about the catastrophic events surrounding an exploding iud on an American covoy that subsequently led to a massacre of Iraqi families men,women and children. The film manages to walk a fine line without being overtly judgemental and shows all the different shades of grey in the story. It definitely shows the fog of war and how the ripples effect lots of families and communities both civilian and miltary.
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