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My hopes were high for this movie. The War between Georgia and South Ossetia/Russia in August of 2008 would seem to be a great background to a well-plotted, carefully crafted film that captures all the intrigue of the Caucasus. Since the Caucasus have always been a nest of ethnic divisions, political double-dealing and vicious banditry I would think any decent screenwriter and director could piece together a fairly intense thriller, I was so wrong. 5 Days of War is a twisted train wreck of special effects laden action and blatant propaganda with a parade of terrible acting. This film was disappointing on many levels. About 40 minutes into the film I realized I was watching a $20,000,000 piece of pro-Georgian anti-Russian propaganda. If anyone does a little research on this war they will clearly see that both sides committed illegal acts under international law. Georgia is actually blamed for triggering the war by using heavy artillery on a city unprovoked which killed civilians, Russian Peacekeepers and damaged large tracts of the city. Once the war began some Ossetia militias fighting with the Russians committed acts of ethnic cleansing and were not stopped by the Russian Military or Government. Shame on them and shame on Georgia for bombarding a city. I do not have a dog in this fight, I think that the problems of that part of the world should be answered by the countries and governments of that region. It is obvious that the filmmakers feel that we should clearly be supporting Georgia with their charismatic leader Mikheil Saakashvili played by Andy Garcia who is portrayed as a Georgian Thomas Jefferson or JFK. Why the hell did they use Andy Garcia anyway? This movie does nothing to help the outsider with the complexities of the actual situation. I want to know what the target audience was for the filmmakers. I was insulted by this film. Why would they take such a complex and historical subject and simplify it down to this? Westerners are natural allies of the peace-loving, compassionate Georgians therefore the obvious "Bad Guys" are the Russians and South Ossetians who bring murder, terror and misery upon the progressive Georgians. The world isn't so black and white and even us dimwitted moviegoers can appreciate the intricacies of politics in the Caucasus. The protagonist of this wreck is an unlikeable American journalist (Rupert Friend in a career ending role) who jumps head first into danger because of his troubled past. He is surrounded by a cadre of American/British journalists (Val Kilmer, Kenneth Cranham who are both wasted as ridiculous caricatures) who drink hard, take big risks and are always crying about how nobody cares about what is going on in the world. At all times they are protected and working directly on behalf of a group of saintly Georgian soldiers. They do not even pretend to be impartial and objective. The contrived role of Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is another low point in a film filled with an excruciating level of inaccuracies, clichés and thoughtless dialogue. Special effects are strong, location looks beautiful but the storyline and fact every major character is played by an American or British actor and not native Georgians/Russians is thoughtless and insulting (insulted again). ONLY WASTE YOUR TIME ON THIS FILM IF YOU HAVE TIME TO WASTE AND REALLY WANT TO HAVE YOUR INTELLIGENCE QUESTIONED. A TRAVESTY.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a movie about a war that just happen,it of course very interesting.
As you can see at many the review and forum comments,the movie's topic
a flaming one. The maker of the movie made it sound like a movie base
on mainly facts. That was the reason I choose to see this movie.
As I'm nor Russian or Georgian(nor one of their allies), and I live quite far for all this mess,I consider my self quite neutral in this issue.
Sadly,this movie is far from facts,and it's so full of propaganda movie that I couldn't even enjoy it's entertainment value.
'5 Days of August' is suppose to tell us a story about the Russian-Georgian war in 2008,from TV-crews eyes. The conflict it's self isn't that sudden,because the area had a long history full of madness,politics and fighting. Which this movie did try to explorer,but quite poorly. Mainly because it only tell the story on the side of Georgians(view of the war from Georgians side). Russians was made to be the main and the only bad guys(which in some context,they of course were at fault,as they act just like US in Irak. Anyway the main problem been Georgians was not as pure and guiltless as it showed). As story came down to a purelly propaganda movie(Georgian been the true Freedom fighters,and not mass murders of their own peoples or South Ossetians. Which depend on your view on South Ossetians independents)that would have made Goebbels proud of this one. As a history and Document fan,I find this movie as bad as it can be. American's propaganda aren't usually this direct, only the Nazi and communist did this type over the top propaganda junks.
As a simple movie, this one has nothing special. Special effect are poor. Garcia and Kilmer made me want to cry! This two's acting is not at the same level as they should be. As b-level Director goes, Renny Harlin did an OK job. He been a Finn must had something to do with why he was in this movie,because even he is overqualified for this movie. Anyhow Winter war and this one aren't the same. Finland wan't the one starting the war,nor did they bomb their own people as part of their plan to "free" them.
Worst thing about this movie,is that some lazy people might actually believe this movie is about facts.
People with open mind and have the mind to study up on the issue of South Ossetia war/history should see this movie(as a joke about Hollywood style of facts), or Movie students. This is 2011 propaganda movie, that use the same style as Nazi's and communist did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cold war movie era is back!
The movie has got no relation to the actual events of 08.08.08 and as such must be classed as a propaganda.
But cold war was over 20 years ago and the skills required to make a raunchy propaganda blockbuster sadly have gone away. While watching it I kept on a lookout for Rambo to jump out and start downing Ruski's choppers. And this is my main problem with movie; there was no Rambo! Every propaganda movie should have a Rambo! There was everything but Rambo, e.g. evil Russians killing indiscriminately, angelic good guys, no attempt to give human-like features to the enemy, lame storyline and cheesy acting. There was also no main evil Russian guy with cool one-liners and a strong accent...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film amounts to little more then a pro-Georgian propaganda flick.
The events are intentionally handled in a loose and inaccurate fashion.
The sequence of events is scrambled, and many events which did not
actually occur are scripted.
The fighting in Gori depicted in graphic detail at the end of the film never took place, Gori was taken by Russian forces without any fighting. Also movement of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and ground troops occurred after the war started, not prior. However, perhaps the greatest lie of the film, is ignoring the initial outbreak of hostilities, which culminated in a Georgian assault on Tshinvali which left close to 2000 Ossetian civilians dead. Total Georgian civilian war dead numbered around 150. This films attempt to portray the suffering of Georgian civilians in graphic detail, while ignoring similar acts perpetrated by the Georgian military completely destroys any value this film has in terms of portraying real historical events. The result is a portrayal of a war that has unclear beginnings, followed by an excessively violent Russian advance, rather different from the historical actual events that unfolded. Particularly noteworthy is the intentional misrepresentation and de-humanization of Russian military personnel, and the the South Ossetian forces that participated in the conflict.
Well, all kinds of things went wrong with this movie.
For starters, the opening sequence is awesome. One thing this movie really had was best camera crew ever. Everything feels very intense all the times, very close to the real war footage. Also, all the props, vehicles, uniforms, even explosions look very real. This is the good part.
The mediocre part is main story. It's a mix of Hotel Rwanda and Tears of the Sun, but feels like a bootleg version, a cheap knockoff of those.
And then there's the bad part. Just after awesome intro, you get "treated" with shots of Tbilisi, with landmarks, people smiling, and god forbid, trancey music in the background. It looked like a commercial for some travel agency, with only "Visit Georgia" message missing from the scene and was most tasteless thing I've ever seen in a film. I live in similar post-soviet country and I do understand the mentality in desperate desire to explain your culture to the world to get less looked as some remote hellhole, but this is outright tasteless and maybe Georgia hasn't come to this yet.
The script had generally no direction. Awesome war scene here, some corpses there, cameramen and photography director knew what to do... But director didn't. First, that simple shot with church and bloody river from 'Tears of the Sun' gives 10 times stronger emotion than whole pile of bodies shown in '5 days of August'. Even though latter tries sooo hard to portray Russians as savages.
Second, despite awesome camera and props, fighting had no point in this movie. You see soldiers shooting stuff and each other, but it's unclear why or what's their plan. I don't think any people who had any idea about how soldiers and military works were on the set. Mi-24 choppers shooting random buildings with rockets? And here I thought that every pilot is given orders and targets to waste expensive munitions on... Also, MI-24 sports a deadly cannon, but it's used only once, missing everything, and soldiers act as chopper had blind men for pilot and gunner, not taking cover. Tanks constantly missing targets and not using machine guns? Taking down a chopper with a single LAW rocket? SU-bombers taking down a restaurant residing in basically nowhere? This all felt very bizarre and pointless.
I could go on, but there's no need. Let's just say that this movie is very average, has some good moments, lots of unmemorable moments, and some outright stupid ones. So pick it up from bargain bin, but don't expect too much.
6 stars I give are for 2 reasons: Awesome camera work (it felt like live action at places) and the fact that despite being incredibly dumb, this movie IS entertaining... and that's good, even if it's for all wrong reasons.
...as for amount of propaganda, this movie is 100% okay, considering what comes from Moscow. Sure it's all bloated and overrated but this is how we rock in those former USSR satellite countries. Even 50 of such movies can't counter a single evening news show from random Russian TV-channel. For westerners, you just have to accept that rules are different, but watching all those Normandy landings in every Hollywood movie and video game, maybe not as much as you might think.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Got this on DVD and was very excited, expecting to see a movie that
would shine some light on the complex situation that has developed
between Russia and Georgia. The writers had very rich material to work
with, the cast and the cover looked absolutely amazing, so one would
expect a good flick.
The movie begins with a scene in Iraq which introduces us to the main character. We see Heather Graham, but unfortunately her appearance is surprisingly short (it's actually the thing with this movie, all good actors get very little screen time.) That scene is perhaps the only thing that impressed me in the whole movie, and perhaps the only part I will remember for a long time. Great effects, and cinematography. Unfortunately it goes downhill from that in a blink.
After that brief introduction to the main character we see him going to Georgia (because Val Kilmer in a bathtub told him, duh.) The dialogs are absolutely awful, especially the scene in a pub where the journalists assemble and discuss how to wipe your ass in Tajikistan (or some such), that dialog has contributed nothing to the movie and only made me dislike the characters. Then we see our journalists visiting a wedding, which naturally gets bombed. That episode, no doubt, was inspired by the Afghan wedding that was mistakenly bombed by US number of years back, it made me wonder why the writers decided to use events from Afghanistan in this movie... but much later, my first surprise was that the episode showed four planes firing a rocket on a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. That made no sense whatsoever, completely destroying suspension of disbelief. The movie goes on like this for quite some time with number of events and characters' actions that make little sense, but then the really bizarre episodes begin.
A very interesting moment in the movie is when the Russians are shown for the first time marching forward. Russians are basically portrayed as Orcs, raping and pillaging like there's no tomorrow. While I'm sure there were atrocities committed by both sides (as in any war) such portrayal of one side as plain evil made me wonder whether the movie is just another part of the informational war that has been going on ever since the actual war ended.
I have to say that I barely made it till the end, the movie had plenty of absurd moments past "the Orcs invasion." There's plenty of action, and visual effects, but with ridiculous story to glue them it's not a pleasant thing to watch.
Overall I found this movie disappointing, insulting to my intelligence, and badly written. I would recommend this movie only if you actually like one of the actors, otherwise don't waste you time.
I could spend an hour writing a detailed play by play of the movie, but
it's easier to say that yes... This is in fact a propaganda movie, so
much so it uses the actual Georgian Army as "actors" for this film and
using only Georgians as sources for the script.
But with that aside, can it be considered a good movie regardless of it's fictional re-writing of history? Sadly this is also no, it has direct to DVD written all over it, If it hadn't been filmed in Georgia, using Georgian soldiers giving it a authentic look it would have nothing standing this movie up.
I'll end this on a quote from Anna Neistat who works for "amnesty international" "This film portrays Russians and Ossetians as barbaric beasts and Georgians as peace angels." I couldn't sum it up any better Anna.
Directed by Renny Harlin and financed by the Georgian government, this
drama is a Russian-bashing screed about the 2008 South Ossetia war and
the events leading to it. The movie revolves around the experiences of
two news reporters Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend) and Sebastian Ganz
(Richard Coyle) who accept an assignment in Tbilisi, Georgia, a year
after their previous assignment together in Iraq ended badly: the two
men were rescued by a Georgian military unit in that country after
their car was ambushed by militants. Anders and Ganz's noses for news
(and trouble) get them fired upon while watching a wedding at a rural
Georgian inn, avoiding capture while witnessing and filming atrocities
by Russian troops who have invaded the country, and ending up as
prisoners of a Russian general (Rade Serbedzija). While simultaneously
escaping, yet being drawn to, trouble and danger, the reporters pick up
a Georgian woman, Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a guest at the wedding at
the inn. Through Tatia and a collective effort to broadcast Ganz's
images to the rest of the world while keeping them away from the
Russians, Anders finds a new purpose in life and a reason to go on
The romance between Anders and Tatia doesn't make sense: why should the two fall in love simply because chance threw them together and put them in danger together and individually? Any "chemistry" that might exist isn't present and the pair's kiss looks like an after-thought. More believable is Anders's loyalty to Ganz when Ganz is injured in a bomb attack and apparently dying: the two have been in many intense life-and-death situations which few other people can understand and sympathise with. Both men are devoted to seeking the truth behind layers of propagandistic fog though paradoxically this search can make them vulnerable to manipulation by politicians and the military. The plot's emphasis on safeguarding the memory stick that holds Ganz's images and the Russians' attempt to destroy it leaves no room for character development with the result that Anders, Ganz and their fellow journalists end up perpetuating old World War Two stereotypes about Russian soldiers torturing and killing people, raping women and torching farms and properties with flamethrowers. (Such stereotypes admittedly are based on fact: Soviet soldiers did act barbarically towards German civilians in the 1940s, partly as a result of the debased culture in the Soviet armed forces that arose after the purges of high-ranking military officers in the 1930s as ordered by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, a Georgian native - what irony.) As the movie carries on, hackneyed plot twists appear: Tatia's family is riven apart by internal betrayal, Ganz is threatened with torture by the Russian general's sadistic enforcer (Nikko Mousiainen), an attempt to broadcast Ganz's images fails when the reporters are targeted by a Russian helicopter, and Ganz is hurt in the helicopter attack. The enforcer kidnaps Tatia and forces Anders to choose between saving her life and keeping Ganz's film.
The film could have focused more closely on the dilemmas that journalists in war zones face: for one thing, whether the search for truth justifies putting their own lives and the lives of innocents in danger. There are various political and ethical decisions they have to make: how closely should they work with the government or the military? how would such work interfere with their journalist code of ethics? There is a female journalist featured who is embedded with a Georgian army unit and viewers may well wonder what compromises she made to get the story and pictures she wants for her employer. Will the opinions she expresses and the images she shows reflect a definite political agenda? The actors do what they can with the story and give at least a three-dimensional look to their characters. Andy Garcia as Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili gives the best performance, endowing his character with a dignity the real person probably doesn't deserve: before the 2008 war, Saakashvili had been criticised for the use of brutal police force against protesters in an anti-government demonstration, and for declaring a state of emergency and suppressing press freedoms as a result of the protests, in November 2007. Well-known US actors Val Kilmer and Dean Cain do little other than parrot their lines and strut about as reporter and diplomat respectively and fellow US actor Jonathan Schaek as Georgian military officer Captain Avaliani spends his screen time saving Anders and Ganz's hides.
Any saving graces are in the Georgian settings: the cinematography features some lovely shots of a town perched on cliffs overlooking a winding river and of the countryside with its mountains and deep gorges. A church used as a refuge gives the film crew opportunities to photograph pictures of religious icons and the wedding scene featured early in the movie gives a little insight into Georgian customs, traditional dress styles and folk dances. Curiously there are no native Georgian actors in the film's major and minor acting roles; Georgians are present only as extras.
By lapsing into an action-movie rut the film fails to give a near-accurate portrayal of the work news journalists do and the problems they face in unusual and intense situations where disinformation, propaganda and fear replace speech and press freedoms. The film does not do what it claims to do: the source of the film's financing alone puts paid to any pretence of impartiality and regard for truth. The Georgian armed forces are portrayed as decent and heroic, the Russians as cruel, barbaric and even criminal: in truth, both sides were guilty of over-reaction to provocation with Georgia attacking South Ossetia first with heavy firepower and both Georgians and Russians alike committing grave war crimes. The US role in supplying arms and military training to Georgia since the Rose Revolution in 2003 and encouraging a belligerent attitude towards Russia should not go uncondemned either.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The ideas behind the story and the movie seem very noble - to bring to
attention the horrors of war. For that we have story, eyewitnesses,
victims, high press coverage and it all happened in recent history.
However, something that was an ideal setting for a humanist drama is
corrupted by many flaws.
Cinematography is frankly very bad. It's on par with home movies. There is little feel to the pictures you see and they do not deliver the feelings that are behind the script. Unless you lived though that particular horror, this movie will not spark any passionate feelings. It's literally like watching a documentary of wildlife. In short, the picture lacks any feel to it.
Direction was ordinary at best. A few emotion filled moments were apparent, yet the cinematography failures just wiped it off the face of the picture.
Quite a lot of CG, yet it's not an action movie. It just kills any underlying messages. Though the CG was very good by itself.
The story is over-politicized. Though I don't think that there is anything wrong to portray a single side of a conflict, I do have a lot of issues when that side is very political. It has very clear tendencies, that result in some strange plot "twists". Some make sense, some don't. Like in all stories the politics just covers up the human side. It's no wonder that the story has tendencies, since quite a lot of Georgians worked on the movie. Sometimes such composition of crew results in a highly emotional and expressive movie. Yet this time those personal connections are lost along the way, giving way to the political aspect of the story.
The Georgians that were close to the conflict will feel emotional towards the movie and will relate in some way. People that were far away will not see through the political veil and fail to relate to hardships and suffering of ordinary people.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is certainly an enigma. Do you rate it for its acting and
action sequences, or for the historical accuracy of the conflict it
pertains to? Covering the former, the acting here is fairly top-notch
by all involved, and the action scenes are where this film excels.
Since individuals involved with the Georgian government assisted in
bankrolling the film, they also got full backing from the Georgian
Army, so if you are an eclectic "tread-head" you will be pleased to see
the actual equipment used by both sides in the conflict, including
Mi-24D Hind's, Su-25 Frogfoot's, T-72's w/ERA of various makes,
BTR-60's & 70's, BMP-2's, you name it. This does much to lend an air of
credibility when viewing. For the normal viewer this may not matter
much, but the action scenes are well (sometimes too well)
Now as for the film's handling of its source material (the 2008 Georgia- Russia war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia), make no mistake about it, this is a textbook example of propaganda film. The Russian and South Ossetian militia are portrayed as savage and merciless killers executing and gunning down everyone in sight, while the brave Georgian soldiers are Hollywood Navy SEALS incarnate. Some of the more obvious propaganda shots do tend to take away from the film a bit (people getting gunned down in classic slow motion), but all in all, if you realize what you are watching....
So, take it for what it is, a very loose patriotic Georgian "interpretation" of the 2008 war. If you are decidedly pro-Russian, the film will likely make you fume. If you are decidedly pro-Georgian, it will likely elicit a few cheers. If like me you are simply aware of the historical facts of the conflict but have no dog in the fight, you can just sit back and enjoy a fairly good film covering subject matter mainstream Hollywood would never bother with. Just do yourself a favor, read up on the conflict before or after viewing so you at least have a balanced view....
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