Mission: Impossible (Again)
With outrage to spare, a fierce Brian De Palma returns to the war zone. Take cover.
by J. Hoberman
Acid flashback or déjà vu? Who, having lived through the late ’60s, would have anticipated re-experiencing the spectacle of an arrogantly mendacious U.S. administration bogged down in an ill- conceived, undeclared, bungled, costly, and apparently endless counterinsurgency? (Although who familiar with American history could doubt its recurrence?)
Powerful, polarizing, and disturbing even in the context of the war’s ongoing horror stories, Redacted was made in Jordan over 18 days for $5 million, and has a credibly sun-blasted look. De Palma, however, operates at once removed: “Welcome to the oven,” Baghdad-based Private Angel “Sally” Salazar (Izzy Diaz) tells the presumed audience for the video journal he’s keeping in hopes it will get him into film school.
Much of the action is filtered through Sally’s camera and tempered by his fatuous Godardian promise of “truth 24 times a second.” Everything else is played out on an assortment of blogs, security cams, YouTube rants, Iraqi news reports, and jihadist websites.