7.6/10
11,612
40 user 82 critic

Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)

Alex Gibney exposes the haunting details of the USA's torture and interrogation practices during the War in Afghanistan.

Director:

Writer:

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district.

Directors: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
Stars: Kochi, Avijit Halder, Shanti Das
Man on Wire (2008)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."

Director: James Marsh
Stars: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.

Director: Davis Guggenheim
Stars: Al Gore, Billy West, George Bush
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf's life was filled with tragedy.

Director: Olivier Dahan
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
Crazy Heart (2009)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.

Director: Scott Cooper
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell
Dreamgirls (2006)
Drama | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.

Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy
Syriana (2005)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A politically charged epic about the state of the oil industry in the hands of those personally involved and affected by it.

Director: Stephen Gaghan
Stars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption.

Director: Fernando Meirelles
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Hubert Koundé
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A law firm brings in its "fixer" to remedy the situation after a lawyer has a breakdown while representing a chemical company that he knows is guilty in a multibillion-dollar class action suit.

Director: Tony Gilroy
Stars: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson
The Queen (2006)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After the death of Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II struggles with her reaction to a sequence of events nobody could have predicted.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell
Precious II (2009)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Director: Lee Daniels
Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton
Ray I (2004)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.

Director: Taylor Hackford
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Soldier - New York Studio Shoot Reenactment
Moazzam Begg ...
Himself - Torture Victim (as Moazzam Beg)
Christopher Beiring ...
Himself - Captain
Willie Brand ...
Himself - Military Police
...
Himself (archive footage)
Jack Cafferty ...
Himself (archive footage)
Brian Cammack ...
Himself - Military Police
William Cassara ...
Himself - Attorney
Doug Cassel ...
Himself - Professor
Dick Cheney ...
Himself (archive footage)
Jack Cloonan ...
Himself - Former FBI Agent
Damien Corsetti ...
Himself - Military Interrogator
Thomas Curtis ...
Himself - Sergeant: Military Police
...
Soldier - New York studio shoot reenactment
Edit

Storyline

Using the torture and death in 2002 of an innocent Afghan taxi driver as the touchstone, this film examines changes after 9/11 in U.S. policy toward suspects in the war on terror. Soldiers, their attorneys, one released detainee, U.S. Attorney John Yoo, news footage and photos tell a story of abuse at Bagram Air Base, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay. From Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzalez came unwritten orders to use any means necessary. The CIA and soldiers with little training used sleep deprivation, sexual assault, stress positions, waterboarding, dogs and other terror tactics to seek information from detainees. Many speakers lament the loss of American ideals in pursuit of security. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In 2002, a young cab driver picked up a few passengers near his home in Afghanistan... He never returned.

Genres:

Documentary | Crime | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing images, and content involving torture and graphic nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 January 2009 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Kurs do Krainy Cienia  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$13,656 (USA) (18 January 2008)

Gross:

$274,661 (USA) (30 May 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Quotes

Damien Corsetti - Military Interrogator: You put people into a crazy situation, people will do crazy things.
See more »

Connections

References 24 (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Kafi Noir
Written by Sheila Chandra and Steve Coe
Published by Moonsung Music
Performed by Sheila Chandra
Courtesy of Real World Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Familiar yet essential information about American policy post-9/11
21 February 2008 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

Taxi to the Dark Side doesn't contain anything wholly new, just more complete detail and important clarifications, such as the fact that Guantanamo uses very much the same basic methods to Abu Ghraib, though the location is cleaner and of course was not formerly used by Saddam Hussein. Dilawar, the Afghan taxi driver, was essentially beaten to death by American soldiers in the Bagram prison. He did not live long once his ill-trained but plainly-directed captors got hold of him, but his final hours were terrifying and horrible. They kicked his legs till they turned to pulp and would have had to be amputated, had he lived. A heart condition caused an embolism that went to his brain and was the cause of death, which on the official US papers given to Dilawar's family, in English so they did not know what they meant, was "homicide," but the officer in charge of the prison denied this when queried. Gibney, who was responsible previously for the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, presents interviews with some of the American soldiers responsible for Dilawar's death. They were, of course, only following orders. Other talking heads clarify the fact that the "gloves are off" policy by US authorities following 9/11/01 goes back to Cheney, approved by Bush, carried out with gusto by Rumsfeld, and sent directly down the line to the low-ranking and inexperienced people whose behavior after the Abu Ghraib scandal emerged was claimed by authorities to be that of people on the "night shift" or "a few bad apples." This film thoroughly disproves that claim.

Gibney shows how the US administration has become willing to blatantly disregard the rule of law, domestic as well as international, to fight their "war on terror" in ways that involved extreme cruelty and murder. In doing this they had the assistance of various corrupt or immoral--or, if you prefer, simply very misguided--men of the law and the judiciary.

The practices have been illegal. They may also have been variously unwise. The photos of Americans mistreating Muslim prisoners at Abu Ghraib are good recruiting material for anti-US terrorists. But torture also simply doesn't work, accomplishes nothing useful. Much time is given to Alfred McCoy, author of a book called 'The Question of Torture' and a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. McCoy recounts that the CIA has been working on methods of coercion for all the decades of its existence, but their experiments have yielded little except lawsuits from victimized guinea pigs. Another authority, a former CIA operative, asserts that the best method to obtain information is to gain the confidence of the prisoner and convince him you can help him.

But post 9/11 "high value" prisoners were clearly tortured with anything their captors could think of--and then confessed to anything they could think of. The film clarifies that psychological experiments by Donald Hobb at McGill University in the Seventies proved sensory deprivation is the most effective means of torture; at least according to Hobb it can induce psychosis within 48 hours. The film shows that basically all "terrorism" suspects here and abroad have been subjected to sensory deprivation. That is what covering the ears, head, and hands does; and it was and is standard treatment to continue this for hours and days. This is more effective than pain. But effective at doing what? Breaking down the prisoner, not obtaining reliable information, or any information, for that matter.

Hence the widely spread US policies are not only harmful, dangerous, immoral, and illegal, but stupid and, in intelligence-gathering terms, worthless.

The "extraordinary rendition," waterboarding, sensory deprivation, etc. don't work in practical terms, but they have a political purpose. They convince people that the US is "getting tough" on its enemies. But the US has not been holding real enemies. If it were, the useless prisoners or wrongly captured would be filtered out, as Dilawar ought to have been. He was innocent. And now the US authorities are in a bad position. They cannot acquit even those few Guantanamo prisoners they are putting up for show trials, because to do so would reveal that they had been held for six years for no reason. That would look bad. Varieties of Orwellian terminology have been devised to describe these prisoners. The film also shows "tours" of Guantanamo and deflates the claims of the tour guides.

One reason for all this is who's been in charge: a group of draft dodgers who never served in a war. Senator McCain is shown in the film as a man who opposes torture for good reason: because he experienced it during his years in a North Vietnam prison.

Another issue: American has a developed a culture of guilty-as-charged, of hysterical attacks on imagined enemies. An example: the popular jingoistic TV program "24," starring Kiefer Sutherland as a CIA agent who "saves" millions by torturing mad terrorists with ticking bombs in Times Square. A Dark Side talking head says that there has never been such a person captured, and suggests that if there were, such a person would have the commitment to die rather than reveal information about his plot.

I do not know if torture never gets you information, though the assertion that insinuating oneself into the confidence of a prisoner is more effective makes sense. What is clear enough from Gibney's powerful and disturbing film (which contains many images not for the squeamish) is that the torture and wrongful imprisonment and lawlessness of the US as a nation post-9/11 indicate a country that has become very cruel and very stupid.

Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com recounts that at a post-screening Q&A when Gibney was asked what he would like his film to accomplish, he said "I hope it provokes some rage." "Well," says O'Hehir, "it worked on me." May it work on everyone who sees it.


41 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?