FIVE DAYS OF WAR
By Gary Murray
Starring Rupert Friend, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Richard Coyle, Andy Garcia and Val Kilmer
Written by Mikko Alanne
Directed by Renny Harlin
Running time 113 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Matinee
There have been war films since there have been films. Some of the most lauded cinematic achievements involve the battle between men. From All Quiet on the Western Front to Casablanca to The Deer Hunter to Saving Private Ryan, films have taken on different aspects of conflict and put a very human touch on battle. Most cinematic war endeavors are about wars that the US had been involved in and few English language films have been about non-American centric conflict. The new Renny Harlin film Five Days of War is about the very short confrontation between Russia and Georgia that happened only a few years back.
The film focuses the plot on journalists who cover the war. Thomas (Rupert Friend) is a frontline reporter who has had some serious heartbreak while covering conflicts around the globe. He seems to revel in the adrenaline of getting the scoop, no matter what the cost.
He (along with his camera man) is covering the unrest in the former Soviet satellite Republic of Georgia. The president (Andy Garcia) wants to be aligned with the West, working with NATO while the Russian President wants the land as part of the rebuild of the Soviet Empire.
The reporters go to a village near the front lines and watch as the Soviet planes attack a peaceful village. Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui) attends the wedding party and watches as many members of her family are gunned down in cold blood. As the people run from the violence, the Russian troops advance. They are led by a group of Cossack fighters who are a ‘take no prisoners-anything to win’ kind of mercenaries.
When the reporters get a recording of war atrocities, the leader Col. Demidov (Rade Serbedzija) want both the digital recording of the event and the people responsible for making the video. Five Days of War is both about the reporters trying to stay alive while the politicians try to find a political solution.
Renny Harlin is the director behind Die Hard 2, Cutthroat Island and Deep Blue Sea. In Five Days of War he shows much of that same flair for delivery of action sequences. Where more of his other films have had a definite fantastical bent, this film is deadly serious. Through the lens of fiction, Renny crafts a ‘true events’ story with an over the top flair of action adventure. This is a lower budget film with a big budget feel.
Val Kilmer is given the second lead billing but he doesn’t do much as fellow reporter The Dutchman. He is just there in a ‘oh, look—its Val Kilmer’ kind of performance. Heather Graham has an ‘above the title’ credit but her part is ‘blink and you miss it’ small. Andy Garcia is miscast in a role that isn’t needed. The makers of the film could have used the real President of Georgia since they used the real Russian leader. He has no interaction with the rest of the cast.
This film is basically a showcase for Rupert Friend and Emmanuelle Chriqui, both who give star turns in their roles. Rupert is our seasoned reporter who has become afraid to become attached and Emmanuelle is the damsel in distress. It is very old Hollywood in both story and execution, wrapped up in a modern war.
In one scene, Thomas gets mad at the reporter for not giving the other side to the story. The thing is that the movie only gives one side to the conflict. It is all about Georgia and the Soviets are just as bad as the Nazis. While it is supposed to represent a viewpoint, the final film feels more along the lines of propaganda.
Five Days of War is a deadly serious film that shows a very human side to covering war. It is not as personal as it needs to be but it entertains.