The Bang Bang Club Movie Review: An Eye Opening Snapshot

April 25, 2011
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Director Steven Silver’s ‘The Bang Bang Club’ with Ryan Phillippe, Taylor Kitsch and Malin Akerman, is making the rounds before its official, but limited release this month. Making its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival 2011 this past weekend, last year’s Toronto Film Festival, as well as available on VOD for a short time only, Silver’s true tale of four combat photographers is disturbing, interesting and entertaining. Read our review of the war drama here.

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Steven Silver’s The Bang Bang Club has all the elements of a a great movie – a killer cast, a true story of four combat photographers in the 90’s, lots of action, eye opening scenes, and characters caught up in larger than life events as the final days of the South African apartheid comes to a close. Unfortunately all of this isn’t always enough to guarantee a blockbuster hit among the masses or critics. Most are turned off by the political side of the movie, opting to see something light-hearted and comical. If you do make it to theaters to see The Bang Bang Club be ready to see a drama that is educational, as well as eye opening and intriguing.

A heart breaking look at the people of South Africa’s struggles, violent scenes of a man on fire, fighting, poverty and pure chaos, the bang bang of it all doesn’t seem to happen until about mid way through the movie. When it first opens, you meet Greg Mannovich (played by Ryan Phillippe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach), Joao Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld), and their editor Robin Comley (Malin Akerman). But it’s not until you see Kitsch’s character take a step back from his camera after a victim, laying dead on the ground, has a spasm, that the movie grabs you. That’s when human emotions take hold and you start to feel both terrible for the photographers but curious, and at times angry, as to how they can just run around the townships snapping pics of the gunfire, and the death and destruction happening to the people right in front of them.

Eventually Phillippe’s character finally pipes up after watching sheer torture right in front of him, and while clicking away asks the group of men involved why they would kill someone who could be innocent. It’s that fiery shot, also involving a machete, that would later bring legal problems and a Pulitzer for his character Greg Mannovich. Although the film doesn’t delve deep into the apartheid or the mind’s of the characters the way you might expect it still gives you a sense of the times.

One thing’s for sure you won’t be walking away with a glowing feeling of happiness, but disbelief, knowledge of the apartheid, and an appreciation of freedom. It serves its purpose, and for that I think Silver’s drama is a must see for its look inside war and discrimination that spanned more than 40 years.

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Credit: Dominic Chan/WENN

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