Incoming Cliches! On the Front Lines in 5 Days of War


“Based on actual events,” don’t you know, this shamelessly clichéd but not-quite dismissable would-be blockbuster accompanies freelance correspondent Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend) and his boozy cameraman, Sebastian (Richard Coyle), as they cover the first week of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. Emotionally scarred from an earlier gig in Iraq, Thomas has attachment issues—until, that is, the pulchritudinous Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui, who doesn’t bother to fake a Georgian accent) shows up to teach him a thing or two about commitment. Self-actualization out of the way, our heroes head to the front to surreptitiously film Russian atrocities and attempt to get the footage out to a world that, tragically, couldn’t care less. Director Renny Harlin can’t resist getting his Rambo on even for so grave a subject, and although he’s masterful with running gun battles and tense helicopter showdowns, such scenes all but snuff out the spark in Mikko Alanne and David Battle’s screenplay. (Bizarre bit parts by Val Kilmer and Andy Garcia also distract.) Nevertheless, taking the vantage point of civilians rather than combatants allows 5 Days of War to show the toll of the terror and of the relentless, exhausting pursuit of war with unexpected force. Had it rejected the genre’s romantic trappings and false heroics more consistently, the movie might’ve been worth the ride.