When Mohammed Al-Rehaief, a young Iraqi lawyer, learns that Private first class Jessica Lynch, a 19-year old U.S. soldier from West Virginia, is held as POW in an Iraqi hospital, he wants to find out what a girl the age of his own daughters is doing and why she's being held, both the U.S. troops and his nationalist countrymen start treating him as a suspect- his personal drama is adding itself to hers and countless other ones in post-Saddam Iraq... Written by
Saving Jessica Lynch is a TV docudrama that was literally thrown together within months following the dramatic rescue of Private Jessica Lynch in the first weeks of `Iraqi Freedom.' There was much skepticism for many who even considered working on the project do to the quick timing. To this day, rumor and innuendo still surround the facts.
NBC claims that this particular version of events are the story rights of Mohammed Al Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer who risked his life and family by telling American Soldiers of Lynch's where abouts. Yet, the movie starts long before Al Rehaief's participation, and the circumstances surrounding events without Al Rehaief are apparent matter of fiction, creative conjecture, and public record, that the creators have handled well. But there will always be this question, that I hope critics will answer, who does this story really belong to?
With all politics aside, and much to my surprise, this movie was particularly enthralling with its suspense, action, and heart felt drama.
The movie starts with the military convoy of the 507th maintenance support vehicles in the dark desert, headlights bouncing light and shadows between vehicles and blowing sand, quickly setting a desolate and soon to be lost mood. With a lack of communication and an aberrant GPS device, choosing the right turn is negligible. The chosen road takes the convoy to the small town of Nasiriya, where all types of Iraqi fighters are seemingly eager to shoot their first American. The tempo methodically builds as the Iraqi fighters push a school bus out into the street causing the convoy to abruptly come to a halt. A long pause for thought and what to do adds to the tension. A plan for escape ensues, but it quickly unravels as the Iraqi's open fire, bullets ricocheting and penetrating all the vehicles at once. Trying to see through the barrage of gunfire as if driving through a pounding rain storm, Lynch's vehicle driven by her close friend Lori Piestewa, crashes into a supply truck.
The passengers of the supply truck, which include soldiers Shoshona Johnson and Patrick Miller, attempt to lend aid to Lynch's vehicle. While dodging bullets, they realize and assume that all are lost, including Lynch.
The devastating battle continues. Patrick Miller and the unknown `blonde' soldier's heroics go practically unnoticed, but that does not stop the drama of the moment or performances from painting a descriptive picture of what essentially happened. We even see Shoshana Johnson take a shot in the ankle. A significant and identifiable moment for woman in the military.
The Iraqi fighters take the surviving soldiers Edgar Hernandez, Joseph Hudson, Shoshona Johnson, Patrick Miller, and James Riley as Prisoners of War. Jessica Lynch is then pulled from the bullet ridden vehicle by the Iraqi's, her seemingly lifeless body, dropped to the ground.
An Iraqi soldier dressed in black, presumably Fedayin, notices that Jessica is still alive, and he orders his men to take the remaining bodies and Jessica away.
Lynch is taken to a warn out hospital where the Fedayin impose their headquarters amongst doctors and patients. With trepidation, a woman doctor makes several clandestine attempts to comfort Jessica. While visiting his wife, who is also a doctor at the hospital, Mohammed Al Rehaief discovers that Lynch is being held. Al Rahaief begins to wrestle with his own conscious and how his family has been affected by Hussein's regime. We even see his neighbor, a woman, being dragged down the street behind a truck because she merely waved at an American helicopter. With years of watching his people tortured, and fearing for the future life of his own little girl, it appears that his selfless decision to contact the US military didn't even take a second thought.
Al Rehaief walks out into the desert at night after the Fedayin imposed curfew, and finds a military regiment to share his news. In a horrifying moment, Al Rehaief is secured at gun point, and shrouded with a bag over his head before being brought to the commander. At one point, Al Rehaief even asks if he will be tortured.
The discovery of the location of a missing soldier, let alone a 19 year old young woman who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, creates great concern and interest to the white house. `We leave no soldier behind' rings true in this story. Without much hesitation, the military takes a leap of faith in believing Al Rehaief's story, and organizes one of the most carefully calculated and meticulous rescues that even the best writers in Hollywood gulped and stuttered at.
Although we as an audience know the outcome, watching the rescue events unfold in this docudrama brings out an emotion of recent memory of watching the specifics on CNN in green. Even though the creators have mixed fact with fiction, the fact that this young woman was rescued in the condition she was in with the help and aid of Iraqi citizens is truly a miracle. The story of the 507th and downed pilots David S. Williams and Ronald Young Jr. is one that needs to be told. Someday it would be nice if there was a narrative that is a compilation of each of their stories, and that it be made into a feature film with all of their blessings.
`Saving Jessica Lynch' is unauthorized by Lynch, and I think it was made and released too quickly and without proper consent. But this story was put together well, and did not particularly exploit the soldiers as feared by critics. It was most certainly worth seeing.
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