While there is some question as to how much of the production was financed by the Georgian government (or in a private capacity, by members of it), there is no doubt that we’re witnessing the brief, brutally bloody conflict from the Georgian perspective. It’s a justifiable bias given that in the Iraqi opening scene, Anders and Ganz were saved by a Georgian unit in Iraq. Less justifiable is their coincidental reunion with the commander (Jonathon Schaech) while they are under fire in South Ossetia. The plot is further simplified by the fact that they encounter only one real villain among the Russians—the evil, tattoo-covered Danil (Mikko Nousiainen), whose actions are the subject of the memory stick that puts the journalists in such danger. Can you believe that Danil’s primary mission is to track down the two journalists who, he can only surmise, caught his incriminating acts on tape?
The Russo-Georgian conflict coincided with the opening of the Beijing Olympics, filling our TV screens and front pages with spectacle, sport and exotic scenery. Our home-grown ignorance of Soviet politics may account for its success at turning a war movie into a thriller—despite the clichéd romance and the stereotyped heroes and villain. In any case, the real crime in “5 Days” has as much to do with journalistic ethics as it does with politics. Like Anders and Ganz, we become determined to get that film picked up by US television and shown to the world—determined, to echo Sen. Hiram Smith that truth will not become a casualty of war.
“5 Days of War” opened Aug. 19 at The Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street, New York City