DIRTY WARS (Rick Rowley). 86 minutes. Opens Friday (June 14).For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Journalist Jeremy Scahill makes a lot of powerful points about America's continuing war on terror in Dirty Wars. Unfortunately, his doc is doused by a lot of artifice.
The film, which coincides with Scahill's new book of the same name, exposes how drone strikes, night raids and collateral damage (including innocent women and children) are par for the course in America's mission to eliminate terrorists, both current and future.
The movie is less about the subject being investigated than it is about the investigation itself. Co-writer and co-producer Scahill places himself front and centre as the star. On top of Afghanistan, he visits Yemen and Somalia, because evidently the war on terror spreads like a virus. When he interviews innocent victims, warlords hired by the U.S. and military insiders, the focus is as much on the journalist's bland expression as it is the information he receives.
Director Rick Rowley seems like a hired hand, shaping the journalist's "heroic" efforts into a detective thriller. There are so many stagey shots of Scahill poring over clues in front of his MacBook, you can't help but assume he fancies himself a real-life Lisbeth Salander.
But Scahill isn't a compelling enough figure to warrant such attention. Even Michael Moore's circus acts are more persuasive. All the shameless self-promotion pollutes the vital information buried within the film.