‘Camp X-Ray’ Movie Review – Blurred Lines
Predictability is easily one of the toughest things to overcome in the film industry. Whether we like to admit it or not, most movies seem to follow the same pattern. We can sometimes trick ourselves into believing one thing isn’t going to happen (the guy isn’t going to get the girl, the villain is going to blow up the city) but it’s usually not for long. Camp X-Ray is a very predictable movie; however, because of its great script and surprising performances, it actually manages to work.
For those that don’t know, Camp X-Ray is based on the detention facility of the same name at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. It’s used to house some of the “worst” criminals and was created largely due to the influx of detainees once the War on Terrorism started after the 9/11 attacks.
I used quotations on “worst” because the camp has been met with its fair share of controversy. Guantanamo Bay was plagued by reports of mistreatment primarily dealing with torture.
Going into the movie, I only knew the movie dealt with Gitmo. I assumed (wrongfully) that the movie would involve torture. However, Camp X-Ray is much more subtle than that. In fact, the movie actually focuses on a “green” soldier, Amy Cole (played by Kristen Stewart) that strikes up an unlikely friendship with a prisoner named Ali (Peyman Moaadi).
Their relationship brings up some politically-charged questions that I’m not really going to ruin for you. I find it interesting that there is vague connection between this movie and what I saw from Fury earlier. If you view movies as an avenue for questioning (which is a noble reason, by the way), Camp X-Ray is probably a film for you.
I’m not naive to think this movie will resonate with everyone. In fact, since it so desperately political, Camp X-Ray will tend to divide audiences into the “love it” or “hate it” crowd.
Naturally, I’m really neither.
However, I can call this movie at the very least effective. It really does boil down to the relationship between Cole and Ali. In this case, there’s no denying the tense relationship between them. Both Stewart and Moaadi (who, yes, does a slightly better job than the normally listless Stewart) nail their performances. They surely can thank the magnificent script (which was also written by director Peter Sattler).
Juxtaposition is a big part of Camp X-Ray as well. It begins and ends by juxtaposing the characters who seem vastly different on the outside. As the movie progresses, the lines, perhaps predictably, become blurred.
Camp X-Ray is at its complete best when Cole and Ali are simply talking. For a movie about a detention center, you’d probably not expect this going in. This may be the most unpredictable part of the movie but, again, predictability is not a huge factor. It does make things seem a little more heavy-handed but it’s not nearly enough to avoid the movie altogether. In fact, I’d argue just about the opposite.
Camp X-Ray is out in limited release now. You can see it on Video On Demand or in select theaters.
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