Films involving the military are a tricky subject, especially when they are based on actual events. Most of them focus on the harsh times of war within the battlefield, but with the latest Boys of Abu Ghraib, it shifts the focus to one of the most controversial moments during the Iraq War, but is it able to capture the emotional impact of the events that happened.
Boys of Abu Ghraib follows an American soldier deployed at Abu Ghraib finds himself behind the walls of the infamous Hard Site, where he develops a secret friendship with an Iraqi detainee. While this film tackles a powerful subject, they manage to tell a story that brings the impact of the outrageous situations that occurred while humanizing both sides to tell the tale. With a minimal set up just to get you to know the kind of person that lead actor and director of the film, Luke Moran is and then just thrusts him into a world that will change everything for him. There we get a small but great performance by Sean Astin who sets the tone of everything that is going on in this facility and clearly doesn’t have an issue with it. As you see things unfold and change Moran, you being to wonder if Astin’s character went through a similar transition. The interesting element here was showing the humanity of the prisoners allowing the lead to develop a friendship with one that slowly builds and then is ripped away sending him spiraling down into a struggle both mentally and emotionally.
While visually they never go too far overboard, there are still aspects that may be hard to watch for some people just for shear cruelty. The film walks a thin line between brutality and compassion, but not in a way to diminish the events, but instead to showcase the harsh realities of both sides both emotionally and physically. There is sure to be a split on this film due to the content, but there is no denying that the ending is the most powerful moment of the film that not only brings the reality to the world, but shows how this harsh experience has changed his life forever.