Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 Days of War (D)

I regret having set such incredibly low expectations for Renny Harlin's latest action packed fiasco 5 Days of War, because if I had set high expectations for the film, I would at least understand Harlin's complete inability to match them. This is a film so misguided, so miscast, so incompetently directed, so poorly acted, and so horribly written, that it crosses the line of "so bad it's good" into the oblivion of absolute and utter boredom.

Usually I know the director and actors of a film before the viewing, but in this case it wasn't so. All I knew about 5 Days of War before entering the theater was that it was about the five day war between Russia and Georgia back in 2008. While I knew of the existence of this already seemingly forgotten war, I knew borderline nothing about how it began and the actions which took place over the five days. It was my own fault for not looking into the film enough to realize that the film would not give me these answers, but rather construct a plot of its own which just happened to take place over these five days. What began as a minor disappointment towards this discovery slowly transformed into a building hatred over the course of this film. If you had an interesting and compelling setting, why not tell a story about that instead of creating your own generic plot?

The generic plot in question is how a troubled news correspondent with a heart of gold, who with a buddy and Georgian ally in tow, attempt to bring video evidence of Russian atrocities to the media. While this plot may sound interesting on paper, it fails horribly on the screen. The plot serves as just a springboard for Harlin to attempt Michael Bay action (which you cannot do without a Michael Bay budget), and to go down a list of clichés like a grocery list.

While Harlin's crimes against giving the mediocre plot justice are aggravating, nothing is more aggravating than the hypocrisy on display in this film. While the obvious moral of the film is: "Violence is wrong," there are constantly scenes in which kills by the Georgian army are glorified, while kills by the Russian army are taken as savagery. However, the biggest example of hypocrisy comes when the main character literally slowly walks in front of an explosion without either looking at it, or being affected by it. How can you show the horrors of war if cool guys still don't look at explosions?

I don't really feel the need to discuss the acting in this film, simply because the actors play the average clichéd characters you'll find in any action film nowadays. The only real note, is that the film begins with a weird Heather Graham cameo, which managed to be just as surprising as it was absolutely unnecessary. What is the point of adding a C-Lister to your D-Lister film if you're just going to (kind of spoiler alert) kill her off on her second minute onscreen.

5 Days of War managed to not even come close to matching my small expectations due to well... just about everything about it. Director Renny Harlin squandered a perfect opportunity to create a fascinating film in order to make a generic low-budget action film. The one compliment I can give this film is that it's better than Harlin's last movie: The Covenant.

Grade: D


  1. Everyone jokes about Harlin's pirate movie. So what? One word: Cliffhanger. If not the best double entendre movie title, then at least one of the best action films. Great setting. Real tension. Sly Stallone's best acting beside Cop Land. John Lithgow's diabolical zenith. Mike Rooker playing a Mike Rooker type, but just a little better. And Janine Turner when she was all Northern Exposure cool -- before she became Tea Party crazy (really - google her). I did like Harlin's Snakes on a Plane...I mean Deep Blue Sea.

  2. Because I hadn't seen Cutthroat Island, I chose not to unfairly reference the film in a negative light. Cliffhanger, and even to a lesser degree Die Hard 2, are two movies that I've always wanted to watch, but never actually have. Hopefully they'll be on TV soon, and if not, there's always Netflix.

    While I've never heard to much about Deep Blue Sea, I'm going to look it up now. While this is only based off viewing three of his films, it seems like Harlin is a director similar to M. Night Shamalyn, someone whose films continuously got worse.