Battle for Haditha

1st February 2008 at 00:00
Film

The Onion, the American satire website, recently ran the headline: "Iraq war no longer interesting enough" - a reaction to the fact that, in 2007, the war didn't make into lists of the year's top stories for the first time.

Now that our collective horrified disbelief (or fervent patriotism, if you prefer) is fading into resigned apathy, the time is ripe for Nick Broomfield, a documentary maker, to unleash his vivid realisation of the battle for Haditha - the day Islamic insurgents swooped on American snipers outside the Iraqi city, triggering a bloody series of tit-for-tat attacks.

The film is fictionalised, but casts Iraq veterans in some of the lead roles, giving a credibility and immediacy to its mostly improvised dialogue.

Crucially, Nick Broomfield spends as long with Iraqi civilians and insurgents (including a memorably tense scene as they wait to detonate their roadside bomb) as with the marines, lending much-needed impartiality to this brutal tale, which culminates in a company of marines mounting a full-on assault on a family home, killing 24.

The soldiers themselves are portrayed as professional killers, bringing death to their enemies with a swift, decisive efficiency that would be alienating if you didn't see the toll it took on one of their number, Ramirez, who's so wracked by violent nightmares he breaks down.

Not only does Battle for Haditha prove the Iraq war is still "interesting", it shows enough time has passed to make an intelligent, balanced movie about it too

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