Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Renny Harlin

Stars: Rupert Friend, Andy Garcia, Richard Coyle, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rade Serbedjiza, Heather Graham, Dean Cain, Val Kilmer.

We’ve had other films that have explored the lot of journalists under fire in a war zone while trying to expose the ugly truth about the carnage behind the scenes, films like Oliver Stone’s Salvador, Pretty Village, Pretty Flames, Roger Spottiswoode’s Under Fire and Michael Winterbottom’s Welcome To Sarajevo. And now we can add to the list Renny Harlin’s 5 Days Of War.

This film is set against the background of the invasion of Georgia in 2008 by Russian troops, as the waning superpower wanted to capture Georgia’s valuable oil lines. Unfortunately the invasion barely registered with the world media, whose attention was distracted by the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics. The pleas for help from the Georgian President Saakashvilli (Andy Garcia) also fell largely on deaf ears.

Television journalist Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend, from The Young Victoria, etc) was in Georgia covering the troop build up. He had previously been embedded with a military unit in Iraq, and his courage under fire could not be questioned. Anders and his cameraman Sebastian (Richard Coyle) witness an atrocity, and then try to smuggle the film out of the country. Along with a local journalist Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui) they have to elude Russian troops as they try to make their way to safety. Unfortunately, the trio is captured by the ruthless Colonel Demidov (Rade Serbedjiza), who wants to destroy the film.

With films like Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2 to his credit, Finnish born Harlin is an accomplished director of muscular action scenes, and 5 Days Of War is full of some realistic, brutal and visceral action sequences. Harlin takes us right into the heart of the war zone, and effectively shows us the chaos, confusion and carnage of war. While the film may lack the immediacy of Winterbottom’s film, which used hand held cameras to good effect, 5 Days Of War is still powerful stuff. Scenes at the end of the film that show Georgians talking about their loved ones who perished in the conflict have a powerful emotional punch.

The script from David Battle and documentary filmmaker Mikko Alanne also delves into the geopolitics behind the invasion, and there is a sense of anger at the way this incident was ignored. The invasion of Georgia may have almost been a forgotten footnote in recent history, and the film similarly has struggled to find a major distributor.

Performances from the largely unknown cast are quite good, with Garcia especially strong as Saakashvilli. Familiar faces like Dean Cain, Heather Graham and Val Kilmer appear in smaller roles, and have little of note to do.

It is interesting to note that the Georgian government has invested in the film and provided some logistical support to the production.




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