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Film review: Take last chopper out and avoid 'Situation'

Published: Friday, April 27 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

THE SITUATION — ** — Connie Nielsen, Damian Lewis, Mido Hamada; with English subtitles (Arabic dialects); not rated, probable R (violence, profanity, sex, vulgarity, brief gore, ethnic slurs).

The situation is this: "The Situation" is a pretty lousy war movie.

It's also a pretty lousy movie in general, though it's the film's somewhat accusatory Iraq War subject matter that's getting it some attention — deserved or not — that makes the whole thing a little distasteful.

But to be fair, at least the film is a slight cut above the noxious Samuel L. Jackson vehicle, "Home of the Brave," another Iraq War drama that was apparently buried by the studio. (If you'd seen it, you'd know why.)

This particular film's title refers to the suspicious deaths of some Iraqi youths, which has the locals up in arms. U.S. Army troops may have been involved in their deaths, an angle that American journalist Anna Molyneux (Connie Nielsen) is investigating.

Anna's personal life is equally tumultuous. She finds she's torn between her well-intentioned CIA agent boyfriend, Dan (Damian Lewis), and Zaid (Mido Hamada), an Iraqi photographer.

Director Philip Haas and screenwriter Wendell Steavenson had some good ideas, but the love triangle concept isn't one of them. If anything, it makes the wishy-washy Anna less sympathetic, since she continues to string the two men along.

Nielsen's flat performance doesn't help, either. But she's not alone in that regard. John Slattery is one-note as a military commander, as is Said Amadis, who plays a corrupt Iraqi official.

Both characters are stock villains, but this type of material doesn't need either of them. So instead, Haas and Steavenson wind up undercutting themselves as well as the film.

"The Situation" is not rated but would probably receive an R for strong scenes of war violence (shootings, as well as vehicular and explosive mayhem), strong sexual language (profanity and other suggestive talk), simulated sex, brief gore and slurs based on ethnicity and nationality. Running time: 106 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com