War

on August 24, 2007 by Ed Scheid
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This “War” is an unflinching and cynical view of the brutality of the conflict in Chechnya. Ivan (Alexei Chadov), a Russian soldier, and touring actors John (Ian Kelly) and his fiancée Margaret (Ingeborga Dapkunaite) are captured by the Chechnyans, who ruthlessly torture the prisoners they haven't killed. The rebel leader makes a deal that if John can raise $2 million ransom in two months, Margaret will be released; otherwise she'll be raped.

John and Ivan are both freed, but back in Britain, John is unable to raise enough money to save Margaret. He does make a deal with a TV station to videotape his return to Chechnya. Ivan agrees to help John rescue Margaret. As the deadline approaches, John becomes more desperate and violent. Ivan and John (with a camera attached to his head) fight their way back to Margaret with surprising ease in fast-paced but conventional action scenes.

Alexei Balabanov's direction that relentlessly details the savagery of the conflict is far more successful than his screenplay of generic scenes and characters. Starring Alexei Chadov, Ian Kelly and Ingeborga Dapkunaite. Directed and written by Alexei Balabanov. Produced by Sergei Selyanov. No distributor set. Drama. Russian-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 124 min.

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