A really political drama which doesn't quite delve to deeply into the politics... which I think was criticised by some, but I found it was probably better off without.
The story is based on the 1999 Seattle riots over the WTO meeting. While the characters are not factual, they are built up quite well, especially Martin Henderson's character who was outstanding I think.
The cast is an ensemble of familiar faces, from Hollywood A list to TV stars, Veterans and Young stars, international and domestic. This is a great ensemble, they pulled it off so well, I was suprised by the efforts of the young and up coming stars like Henderson, Andre Benjamin and Channing Tatum and expected no less from the likes of Liotta, Sherbedziga, Neilsen and Woody Harrelson, whom Ive missed in the movies' and they all delivered some of their best performances. The movie was about the characters and the emotional and physical trauma of the events of the battle, and they did great. A near perfect cast for a movie which I think can appeal to a wide audience.
The secrets of this movie?
First of all, it opens up interestingly enough around 10 stories high. XD! Yep, protesters doing their job. And within 20 minutes, the movie had sped up to the start of the main event. No lounging around, no beating around the bush or whatever people use terms for boredom. This I really appreciated, as these type of movies tend to have a slow start. A speedy entrance could have spoiled the quality and left blanks, but in this case, it began simply and effectively, the movie exploring the events of 4 days of turmoil through the eyes of protesters , police and the embattled Mayor played excellently by Liotta. The movie's pace only begins to slow down in the final 25 mins, which I guess is appropriate, as the excitement and drama subsides, and to a clear and cut ending of half week turmoil.
The cast and their respective roles were tailor made and fit like the proverbial gloves. You cannot help but sympathise with, laugh, cry or feel the anger, pain and other emotions they bring out, the movie brings out and raises your awareness tenfold.
The script is absolutely outstanding. Everyone in their pivotal moments said the right words perfectly. They were simple, straightforward, easily comprehensible and very effective. My favourite lines was Sherbedziga losing his cool at the leaders walking out on his speech for introducing better medical for third world nations, and the awesome ownage delivered at the end by Isaach De Bankolé (made famous in Casino Royale) a scalding attack on the First World representatives at the WTO meeting which led to the fall out of the event.
The simplicity of how a politically tense, natured and really confusing issue was well done. I don't see how anyone can fail to understand the messages and the different views being delivered here. I guess the high energy and emotions coupled with the great script made this possible.
Choosing your side or view. the multi viewpoints from the Mayor of Seattle to the government, the police, the protesters whether peaceful or violent, the innocent, portrayed by Charlize Theron, the confused or simply, just don't care. But one way or the other, you will have decided on a view by the end of this movie. To have a movie giving you so many choices to understand, to see the characters making those choices themselves only brought me further into the movie, engaging me on all levels from entertaining to intellectual. Greatly appreciated this subtle viewer engagement by the director.
The vivid and sharp camera work was good. Not particularly great, but good enough so you don;t miss any of the action and drama. Based on real events, some great real life footage is thrown in, and the slide show at the end was amusing, thoughtful and eye opening as well. Gotta love movies based on real events.
For Stuart Townsends directorial debut, this is a complete surprise and a wonderful effort for anyone. The topic and issues, interesting and original. The clear messages of the WTO and Townsend's views do come through clear, but I don't mind. The movie is a work of art, and each artwork is biased, opinionated and delivered. what makes a good work of art is how it is portrayed and delivered... and this is definitely well delivered.
The music score I was indifferent about, it was not as engaging as the rest of the movie. I guess Massive Attack doesn't engage me any more, or he was probably the only real mistake of the film. I just didn't pay attention to the music, it didn't click. Not to say it didn't work for the movie, but I appreciate a good score to the movie, and I guess this is where it failed for me. it did take the shine of what is probably a great movie.
I don't know how, but this became one of my favourite movies of the year, and its going on my favourites list. I don't think many would react as I would to this, but Im a fan of ensembles and fast paced movies, and the realism probably was the thing that made up my mind to watch this. I remember the Seattle Riots back in High School, and I remember in latter years coming to understanding it and the issues better and better, and its great to see this come to the big screen.
One reviewer said he thought it was a bad TV movie.... but Townsend made it awesome. Luckily this didnt become a mini series, it would have just been inundated with useless facts, issues and scenes which would have made it boring, dull, and no entertainment value.
Two thumbs up and a must see.