• 5 Days of War


    Released By: Anchor Bay
    Released On: 11/29/2011
    Director: Renny Harlin
    Cast: Rupert Friend, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Val Kilmer, Andy Garcia, Richard Coyle
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    The Film:

    In 2008, while practically none of the world watched, an armed skirmish between the country of Georgia and European superpower Russia took place. Lasting only 5 days and lacking the glamour and excitement of the conflict in Iraq, the war didn’t really become noticed until it was over and reports of the brutality started streaming in. Even with the senseless loss of so many lives, the South Ossetia War still barely registers as a blip in the consciousness of most of the world.

    Five Days of War tells the story of this conflict by way of a fictional pair of buddy reporters who travel to Georgia to cover the story after being informed by fat Val Kilmer in a bathtub that the military actions are getting no coverage from the news media. Having just lost his girlfriend reporter to an Iraqi sniper, Thomas is anxious to get back into the fray and take his mind off of things. He and cameraman Sebastian (Richard Coyle from Coupling) head to the separatist capital of Tskhinvali, meeting up with some friends of theirs in the Georgian army, and stop for dinner at a small restaurant. Dinner, and the wedding reception a few tables over, comes to a screeching halt when Russian jets bomb the hell out of the village, killing a good chunk of the wedding party and a number of villagers. Thomas and Sebastian do their best to help the victims to the safety, making the acquaintance of Tatiana, a nice-looking Ossetic girl. Feelings of attraction override the need to survive, and Thomas decides to accompany Tatiana up north to find the rest of her family.

    Unfortunately for Thomas, his Press credentials don’t carry much favour with the Russian army, or the sadistic bunch of mercenaries that they’ve employed to do some of the nastier work in the villages. A chance filming of the kneecapping of an old woman and the throat-slitting executions of two other villagers motivates Thomas and Sebastian to get their footage to uninterested networks by any means necessary, while being pursued by the subjects of their film who want to retrieve the footage by any means necessary. As Russian forces again mobilize to attack the village, it becomes unlikely that the reporters will get out alive, footage or not.

    Fast-paced, bloody as hell, and packing a nasty emotional wallop, 5 Days of War is a surprisingly good film that definitely flew in under the radar. Although the main characters do get a little predictable toward the end, the opening 10 minutes of the film flips the game around in a completely unpredictable manner; but no spoilers should be found in a review. Harlin’s decision to shoot on location for the most part was a good one, and the Georgian countryside, in some cases still showing the results of Russian bombs, is a beautiful canvas. Acting chops are where they should be right across the board, and Harlin brings the action film directing chops that made Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger edge-of-your-seat films.

    The downside? Well, there really isn’t one. Pacing is tight, and the story is solid; perhaps the only complaint would be that there’s really no effort to make the film unbiased. The Russian army are presented as the sole aggressors in the film, with the country of Georgia presented as David against the Red Goliath, fighting back in the shadow of a much more powerful enemy. The film pulls absolutely no punches in making the Reds the bad guys, almost a throwback to the glory days of Cannon Films. No matter, 5 Days of War is a more than worthwhile action flick with a smattering of social commentary.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Anchor Bay brings 5 Days of War to blu-ray with a 2.40:1 transfer that looks great. The colours come across as very natural, emphasizing the Georgian countryside, contrasted with the destroyed urban centres. The picture is sharp with good black levels, and nary an artefact to be found. Likewise, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is excellent with good balance and range, taking full advantage of the surrounds and subwoofer, making some of the more intense action scenes….more intense.

    A few extras are also included; first up are 11 minutes of Deleted Scenes that are interesting enough to watch, but some of them are just multiple takes of the same shot. A trailer can also be found as a supplement. The feature-length commentary, however, is the most interesting. Director Renny Harlin talks extensively about the film, from the motivation and research stages, shooting on location, character backgrounds, and tons of facts about the country of Georgia. Harlin is definitely enthusiastic about the project, and there’s not much downtime in the conversation.

    The Final Word:

    Anchor Bay has delivered a winner with 5 Days of War; it missed out on the publicity machine, but it’s definitely worth seeing.
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Bonus points for 'fat Val Kilmer in a bathtub.'
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Dude. He's fat and in the bathtub on a video web chat thing. Why?
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Why what? Bonus points? Cause that line made me laugh.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      No, i'm asking why fat Val Kilmer is on a videoconference in a bathtub with a drink? Renny Harlin needs to answer for that.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      I can't help you there.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      Thanks for the clarification - I wasn't sure who was in the tub there...that could make all the difference.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      That's why we do what we do, Nolando.