The Whistleblower Reviews
A fine, unremarkable social issue drama that looks unflinchingly at the cruelties of sex trafficking, The Whistleblower has its moments when it is remarkably compelling only because the material is tough to watch. While it attempts to wring ethical questions out of its hero's predicament, anyone with half a moral compass would find the character's choices obvious.
Rachel Weisz has done better American accents in her other work, and that's about the extent of my criticism of her work here. She's good, but there's little extraordinary about her performance.
Overall, as social issue dramas go, this one is good but nothing profound.
Director: Larysa Kondracki
Summary: Sent to Bosnia to train cops in the aftermath of that country's brutal civil war, American policewoman Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) uncovers evidence that U.N. peacekeepers are complicit in a flourishing sex-trafficking trade. But when she brings her allegations to light, she discovers that her foes are more powerful than the law. Based on a true story.
My Thoughts: "This is not an easy film to watch. There are some horrific scenes of young girls having unimaginable things done to them. But it's reality, and that is what makes it that much more horrifying. What Kathryn Bolkovac did was heroic and fearless. It's sickening knowing our countries police officers participated in those heinous crimes. I find it devastating that they went unpunished. Some kind of punishment should have been brought to them. The whole story is inspiring yet devastating that there isn't more being done to prevent these things from happening. Maybe more will see this film and be encouraged to take more action against these frightening acts. Now for the acting. Rachel Weisz was amazing in this movie. She portrayed the strong female lead who takes on the male dominant force and doesn't let them stop her from keeping her promise to those girls. You can not walk away from this film and not be effected by this movie. Kathryn Bolkovac is a hero."
While "The Whistleblower" never fully gets going and suffers from more than its fair share of cliches, it is still realistic enough to suggest no great criminal mastermind in the way of Moriarty, just a lot of low level evil and lots of good people looking the other way. Luckily, Kathy(based on a real person) is not one such person. Ironically, the movie's message is if anything looks too good to be true, then it most certainly is which links Kathy to the trafficked girls, instead of perhaps Kathy thinking of her daughter when she sees them. It is definitely a plus to have such a forceful point of view as Kathy's to see the crimes unfold before us but it is so intense that the human trafficking storyline feels like another movie entirely.(Strangely enough, I thought the lectures on post-war Bosnia were the most interesting parts of the movie.) The movie also allows us in to her head to feel what she does but it is not shock or revulsion as much as it is frustration at the bureaucracy and the kind of person recruited by contractors, as the viewer is also frustrated by this deeply flawed movie.
A first rate cast led by the amazing Rachel Weisz, this movie rips into international diplomatic hypocrisy, private military contractors and massive international level corruption.
It is very important and a damning evidence of how private military contractors are coming in as peacekeepers / law enforcers and gradually turn into wolves themselves, and how little governments care.
A very sorry state of world affairs. Please watch.
As with many films of this type, the film is quite slow during the less thrilling points, but when the less thrilling points aren't so dull, it's because the filmmakers just couldn't wait for the thrilling points, so they went right ahead with the tense music and overstylizing. Much of the score and style has too much grit at points, and often contradicts the slower tones. To make matters worse, when the most thrilling moments finally roll in, we're so use to the overly gritty points that preceeded, that the tensity is diluted, and it doesn't help that the film is low on subtlety. John Beifuss of "Commercial Appeal" hit the nail right on the head we said that this film is "structured and shot like a quality premium-cable channel police drama". This film could be worse, but still takes that unsubtle and overstylized approach to this material, but because it's a portrait on real, very provocative events and issues, it makes that hit hurt even more. Still, what seperates this film from those shows is the audacity taken. Okay, it's mostly the acting that's the biggest difference, but this is still heavy material that could have been approached more subtley, but still gets you thinking.
This material is disturbing and gritty, and summons so many moral questions. "What would you have done?" is a question asked almost as much as "Is there anything that I could have done?" It is a thought-provoking piece of subject matter that may not impact some as heavily as it impacts others, but will more often than not, get its point across, through all of its faults. Still, what carries this film is most is the acting, which I've heard called much better than the film, itself. I strongly agree, but it's not like that's a bad thing, because the acting is what really brings this story to life, with everyone giving such emotion and strength in their presence, particularly leading woman, Rachel Weisz. Weisz has been all over the place this year, but in films that no one is seeing, and that's a shame, because she's such a solid talent, and this film in particular really shows that. Weisz really gives it her all, but in a graceful fashion, giving off such a palpable tone of sharp compellingness with her often subtle, but sometimes very high, and very fine emotional work and generally engaging presence, which really summons the sense of danger and importance in Kathryn Bolkovac's story of fighting for justice for the disgustingly degraded, making her both a powerhouse lead for this film, and among the best performances by an actress this year, and that is saying quite a bit, considering that this is looking to be the year of the strong leading woman.
In the end, it conforms, not to a fine film of its type, but to the overstylzing and lack of subtlety that plague the less competent police thrillers, but its provocative tale still keeps enough of its impact, partially thanks to the many excellent performances - particularly the one done ever so sharply by leading woman, Rachel Weisz -, "The Whistleblower" remains a generally fascinating and thought-provoking portrait on the depths of corruption and cruelty in humanity.
3/5 - Good