Redacted

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Redacted Movie Poster Image
Disturbing, fact-based story of rape and murder.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 91 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

U.S. troops are angry, frustrated, and fearful; several are overtly racist and misogynist. A group of four soldiers rapes a 14-year-old Iraqi girl. She and her family are murdered; the primary villains never show remorse.

Violence

Ongoing and upsetting violence throughout. A rape is central to the story. Several scenes show shooting and bombs exploding. Images of guns, tanks, and shoulder-mounted grenades. U.S. soldiers man a checkpoint where they shoot up a car that's transporting a pregnant woman to the hospital (some blood). Hospital scene shows blood and chaos. A sergeant is killed by a bomb (his bloody, detached leg flies into the frame and lands on the ground). A woman describes the rapists' brutal possible deaths.

Sex

Frequent conversations about sexual desire and activity (includes use of words like "p---y" and "boned"). Porn magazines visible in the troops' base camp. Rape scene shows some thrusting and gestures toward the camera -- no nudity, but explicit action. Uncomplimentary discussion of a dead woman's pregnancy.

Language

Very frequent swearing, including 100+ uses of "f--k" and multiple uses of "hell," "s--t," "damn," "ass" (some with "hole"), and "bitch." Derogatory words like "ragheads" and "hajji" are also used.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Soldiers appear drunk and high and smoke cigarettes frequently.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this mature Iraq war drama definitely isn't for kids. Based on a true story, it deals with violent acts like rape and murder (including the shooting of a pregnant woman) and shows U.S. soldiers' boredom, fear, and tensions. The closing images of real Iraqi civilian corpses and mourners are especially difficult. Weapons include guns, grenades, and IEDs; other scenes show drinking, the effects of drugs, and cigarette smoking. Not surprisingly given the war-zone setting, language is strong and constant, with more than 100 uses of "f--k" and lots of racist and misogynist slurs.

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What's the story?

Welcome to the oven, says Pfc. Angel Salazar (Izzy Diaz) in voice-over narration accompanying his own video. "A.k.a. Camp Carolina, our home away from home in this godforsaken country." He notes the stench, films the barracks, and calls to his buddies to smile as he turns the camera on them. His Iraq "war diary," he says, will be his ticket into film school back in the States. At the start of REDACTED, Izzy's footage is all about his fellow troops, their complaints and arguments, their naïvete and arrogance. They've all seen this movie before and respond with suspicion: Bookish Gabe (Kel O'Neill) protests the filming ("If you have a camera, you're part of the media, and we're under strict orders not to talk to the media"), while moralistic McCoy (Rob Devaney) pulls out his own camera, proclaiming that "The first casualty of this entire conflict, it's gonna be the truth." With these brief exchanges, the primary argument of Brian De Palma's movie is clear. He's not just saying that the war is bad, based on lies, or turning young troops into confused victims or traumatized killers. No, his message is that the media have lost any semblance of integrity in their reporting. And if that story isn't precisely news, De Palma's version does arrive in theaters preceded by recent debates over the very possibilities of telling the truth during wartime.

Is it any good?

Redacted is hampered by awkward acting and obvious point-making. Still, the final sequence -- photos of actual bodies, titled "Collateral Damage" -- is stunning, whether you see the studio's "redacted" (faces-blurred) version or the director's edit, with faces clear. In the end, death is its own truth.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie uses different types of imagery to suggest the chaos of the war zone. How effective is this strategy? What are the different types of media used? Do some have more impact than others? Why? Families can also discuss what the film is saying about U.S. troops and their training. Are there any heroes in this movie?

Movie details

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