The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

Critics Consensus

The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair lifts the veil on a heartbreaking series of horrible mistakes -- and puts a painfully necessary human face on the cost of war.



Total Count: 29


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,513
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Movie Info

The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair represents a follow-up to husband-and-wife filmmaking team Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's critically-worshipped, defiantly nonpartisan documentary Gunner Palace (2004), on the day-to-day of American soldiers stationed on the Iraqi front. In that earlier picture, Tucker and Epperlein stumble across Yunis Khatayer Abbas, a Middle Eastern man who merely confesses, "I am a journalist," before American soldiers drag him off to incarceration. The Tuckers reconnected with Abbas at a later point, and disinter his backstory in this film. Tortured by the goons of Saddam Hussein's brother, Uday Hussein, Abbas later became a key terrorist suspect of the U.S. government, who believed that he intended to kill British prime minister Tony Blair. American authorities had Abbas thrown into the notorious Abu Ghirab prison (and other penitentiaries) and subjected him to month after month of grueling interrogation. Eventually, they released him - with a one-word apology. Tucker and Epperlein recount Abbas's story with an unusual approach: in lieu of a straight documentary, the filmmakers employ a comic-book iconography, with over 150 onscreen illustrations of Abbas's plight by Epperlein, intercut with clips from Abbas's home movies and glimpses of U.S. Army documents - all of which detail the sad absurdities that befell him.


News & Interviews for The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

Critic Reviews for The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (5)

  • ... a chillingly pitch-black comedy of errors ...

    Apr 9, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • [Abbas'] story demands to be heard, though Tucker and Epperlein lack the material for a full feature and pad this out to 73 minutes with some incongruously playful elements.

    Mar 30, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Abbas could tell his interrogators nothing they wanted to know, but everything we needed to know about their tactics.

    Mar 30, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's an angry story, but also a strangely hopeful one, in the sense of new life sprouting through a battlefield. Above all, it's personal and specific, and that is news we can use.

    Mar 30, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • The Prisoner doesn't try to put the entire war in context or offer broad solutions. It's a focused slice of the war, covering an issue that you've probably wondered about but haven't seen in many other places.

    Mar 30, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A modestly mounted, but curiously poignant little documentary which somehow -- quietly, devastatingly -- shows and tells you more than you may perhaps want to know about the dehumanization implicit in the mighty, blighted Iraqi adventure.

    Mar 30, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

  • Jan 25, 2008
    [font=Century Gothic]"The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair" is an eye-opening documentary about Iraqi journalist Yunis Khatayer Abbas who in the wee hours of September 23, 2003 was detained along with his three brothers by American troops on charges they were plotting to kill Tony Blair. On the videotape, he is clearly seen saying that he is a journalist(his work on the invasion and aftermath is also shown), so this should have been cleared up in no time at all, right?[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Nope.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]He was worked over and then imprisoned along with two of his brothers(a third is freed) at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison where heinous living conditions and inedible food were the rule of thumb, the infamous photographs being only the tip of the iceberg. After a few months of this, humane replacement soldiers made a bad situation somewhat bearable.(Along with some illustrated stills, the documentary is mostly Yunis telling his story to the camera. The only other person interviewed is a soldier from that replacement unit.) Under Saddam Hussein, Yunis was tortured in 1998. But as Miss Manners can tell you, it does not make a good impression when the new boss is not much better than the old boss. [/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 11, 2007
    Unusual and creatively made documentary about an Iraqi journalist who was wrongly arrested and sent to Abu Ghraib for a plot to kill Tony Blair that he knew nothing about. Has a small focus, but finds ingenious ways to compensate, has a chilling first person look into the injustices of Abu Ghraib and the occupation of Iraq as a whole from the innocent civilians who have to endure it.
    Matthew L Super Reviewer
  • Mar 17, 2007
    Interesting Iraq story marred by comic book motif.
    William G Super Reviewer

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