5 DAYS OF WAR
After a bad run in Iraq, American war correspondent Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend), is urged by the world weary Dutchman (Val Kilmer) to go to Georgia, on the eve of the Russian invasion in 2008. Anders takes his cameraman, Sebastian (Richard Coyle), on the road north, toward the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, in time to witness a Russian air strike on the village of Vaziani. Anders and Sebastian document the devastation, then shuttle survivors to a military hospital in Gori, with the help of Georgian school teacher Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui). They return to the battle zone to help Tatia find her missing family and record evidence that will shock the world. But the trio is captured by the ruthless Colonel Demidov (Rade Serbedjiza) and his mercenary Daniil (Mikko Nousiainen). Rescued at the 11th hour, their priority is survival and getting to Gori to get their footage out. While President Saakashvilli (Andy Garcia) seeks international help, Anders faces one last test of courage as he strives to save Tatia's life.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
5 Days of War is a major leap from Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger for Renny Harlin, the most successful Finnish director in Hollywood, who made it his personal mission to tell this story - just as the war correspondents on whose real life story it is based made it theirs 'to get the footage out'.
The footage is contained on a small digital card, no bigger than your average digital camera card, but it bears witness to the brutal Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, while the world's attention was tuned to the Beijing Olympics.
The Olympics lasted 17 days, the Russian - Georgian war lasted just five. Several hundred Georgians were killed, 50,000 were made homeless, their villages obliterated.
With a cast of terrific character actors, Harlin humanises the story with the help of a well written screenplay and some inspired editing. We see the war from an intimate point of view through the eyes of war correspondent Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend) and his cameraman Sebastian (Richard Coyle), while the big picture is delivered through scenes with Georgian President Saakashvilli (Andy Garcia) as he pleads with the West for support.
Rupert Friend delivers a totally credible and suitably complex Anders, a war reporter who fuses conscience with pragmatism and heart. Richard Coyle is a solid presence as the can-do cameraman and Rade Serbedjiza is at his gutsy best as the Russian Colonel, a figure that could have been turned into a musical hall villain but isn't.
The lovely Emmanuelle Chriqui gives life to the young Georgian teacher, Tatia and Val Kilmer gives his Dutchman a scene stealing bravado and edginess.
The film is stirring and moving and occasionally harrowing, needless to say, and it achieves its objective of powerfully documenting a short span of history that must not be overlooked. In the process, Harlin doesn't hold back from indicting the Russians for their actions - nor should he.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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5 DAYS OF WAR (MA15+)
CAST: Rupert Friend, Richard Coyle, Val Kilmer, Andy Garcia, Rade Serbedzija, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Dean Cain, Heather Graham, Mikko Nousiainen, Antje Traue,
PRODUCER: Renny Harlin, Mirza Davitaia, George Lascu, Koba Nakopia
DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin
SCRIPT: Mikko Alanne (original screenplay by David Battle)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Checco Varese
EDITOR: Brian Berdan
MUSIC: Trevor Rabin
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marc Greville-Masson
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Anchor Bay
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 21, 2011