A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.
In this multi-biography, director Steven Silver tells the story of four friends, all combat photographers in the mid 1990's before the fall of the Apartheid. They tell the story of the Zulu and their tribal warfare all the while photographing the constant death, starvation, and violence that surrounds them, all the while building their camaraderie and forming the Bang Bang Club.
It's a very well written film and it brings up many issues. Most notably the hypocrisy of the situation, is that these journalists are living a life of comparative wealth and debauchery in this time of strife, and at the same time trying to make a name for themselves by taking photos focused on the very visceral suffering of others. Where the film really shines is in the background and the violence therein. I was quite impressed with the sheer number of extras for most of the fighting scenes. There are a lot of graphic sequences of course, but it's not the violence that makes the film. It's the exploitation of that violence that makes the film so interesting.
There were a couple of issues I had with the movie. For example, 4 white guys with cameras strapped to their bodies standing in the middle of battles while dodging bullets is certainly unbelievable at times. Yelling "PRESS! PRESS!" doesn't keep you safe in a war-zone. The dialogue is believable for the most part, except when they are joking around in the middle of the battle scenes. I did enjoy Taylor Kitsch's torn and dark portrayal of his character Kevin Carter. Ryan Phillippe does well as prize winning photographer Greg Marinovich, but I thought he was perhaps too good looking to be believable. Compare him to the real Greg Marionovich during the end credits and you'll see what I mean.
That being said, it's an excellent film and Steven Silver certainly has an eye for very personal story telling.
- Apr 5, 2016