5 Days of War | Film review
Action hack Renny Harlin tries his hand at politics.
Renny Harlin used to make ridiculous movies involving pirates or Sylvester Stallone; now he makes ridiculous movies about Putin’s 2008 invasion of the country of Georgia. Some might call this broadening. The hard fact, though, is that Harlin’s instincts—always toward the massive and slo-mo—make him a fairly dunderheaded political analyst. A driven American war correspondent (Rupert Friend) and his thrill-seeking cameraman (Richard Coyle) enter the battlefield, bear witness to a catastrophic Russian-led air siege, comfort many a crying civilian and team up with a cute local teacher (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Oh, justice, where are you?
Shot on location with tons of military hardware from the (heroically portrayed) Georgian government, the movie has a glossy, one-note slickness—and that’s not even counting Andy Garcia’s questionably accented President Mikheil Saakashvili, making the case for international aid. (It’s the rare film about current events that leaves you knowing less.) Cameos from ex-Rollergirl Heather Graham and a chunky Val Kilmer, unable to screw down into seriousness, threaten the already-fragile believability quotient. Had the film stuck to the dangerous lives of these committed journos—rendered in the mold of the tragically lost Tim Hetherington—it would have had material enough; Harlin, while clearly honoring their work, turns them into low-wattage action heroes.