It's incredible to think that Brian De Palma is responsible for the new Iraqudrama, Redacted. Not because the film is a convincing mélange of amateur video clips, surveillance footage, TV newscasts, and webchats. (It's not.) Rather, because it's nearly impossible to reconcile the fact that the director of Scarface could make a movie this god awful.
Only Redacted's basic plot, based on real events, and general concept sidestep artistic disaster: The day after a soldier (Patrick Carroll) lights up a harmless Iraqi family at a roadside checkpoint (including a pregnant woman—subtle), insurgents retaliate with a roadside bomb that kills the platoon's sergeant. Not to be outdone, the stereotypical American soldiers invade an Iraqi home at night and rape and murder a 15-year-old girl.
Redacted is presented as a feature-length montage of videos from disparate sources—a soldier's camcorder, webchats, Al Jazeera-style newscasts, etc. However, De Palma does a terrible job recreating the look of these, so the effect is like those cheesy music videos that cut to phony "CNNN" footage, or overlay a "• Rec" graphic to let you know it's supposed to be a home movie. The script is sub-USA Network: One soldier, privately talking to another about the previous night's rape and murder, describes it as "a band of brothers losing their moral compass and trying to wreak vengeance on a 15-year-old girl."
Some scenes require Redacted's actors to ham it up a bit, since they're supposed to be posturing for their buddy's video camera. Yet they deliver their lines just as loudly and unconvincingly when we're supposedly watching surveillance footage, and they never become more convincing than cliché-spewing cutouts.
With all the complexity of a high school play, and the ambition of a film school final project, Redacted misses every mark it shoots for, and flops about the screen like a developmentally delayed cousin of Jarhead.