SCREENED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL, WORLD PREMIERE
professional looking documentary on the little known, but important, private military sector. mercenaries have been around as long as war yet we don’t think of them in today’s world. 9/11, iraq, and afghanistan have raised the awareness and use of mercenaries.
the film pieces together the past, present and potential future of mercenaries with interviewees from a few different backgrounds. there are the intellectuals and analysts, those in the field (present and ex-mercenaries and one president of a mercenary company), and ex-military personnel. bicanic does a fairly good job of staying balanced in his representation of the role of private security companies (as they prefer to be called). he cites past successes (sierra leone in particular) and leaves room for the personal responsibility of the company, thereby avoiding condemning the entire industry. at the same time he brings up real concerns like the effect outsourcing war has on the budget, troop morale as well as its ethical implications.
it’s definitely worth watching since it is, to my knowledge, a one of a kind documentary about a subject much more relevant and important than penguins and spelling bees (not that there’s anything wrong with those). i would have liked a bit more exploration of the potential futures of mercenary groups, but i can understand the filmmakers’s hesitance to explore this area since it would probably lend itself to a more leftist than centrist view of the subject.
edit: upon further reflection i remembered one segment in the film where the filmmakers were a bit of an anti-american bent. there was a quick shot of an american mercenary saying “america, fuck yeah.” people in the audience shook their heads in disgust. at first i felt the same, but then i realized that there was a very strong possibility (because of his inflection) that he was sarcastically referencing a song in “team america.” whether or not the filmmakers knew this or took it out of context accidentally i can’t know. either way it should be noted.Watched in theater Watched on TV