Eschewing the crutches of voiceover or onscreen text, Foulkrod quite expertly crafts a clear narrative by threading remarkably candid interviews from a dozen soldiers and their loved ones. Amid a well paced combination of talking heads and effective montages to the tunes of The Roots, Mos Def and Tom Waits, a common storyline emerges: recruitment, which one interviewee says should come with a Surgeon General's warning; training, during which recruits are prepared for combat by dehumanizing the enemy; deployment to Iraq, where both equipment and a clear mission are in short supply; and the return home, where the skills they've learned in the military make for an ill-match in civilian life. Because there are so many voices at work here, some imbued with ambivalence, it's difficult to argue that this is the viewpoint of a disgruntled ex-employee.
Disappointingly, an hour in the picture gets repetitious and starts to drag, and ultimately the accumulated impact of the soldiers' stories is mitigated by a certain preachy tone the film takes on in its final act. It's uplifting to see damaged servicemen and -women heal through action, establishing activist organizations that offer services to fellow vets and raise awareness among the public as well as putting their skills to positive use in post-Katrina New Orleans. But by this time all subtlety has been lost. Directed, written and produced by Patricia Foulkrod. A Focus release. Documentary. Rated R for disturbing violent content and language. Running time: 72 min.