"A Sobering, Saddening Account of Evil"
22 JULY is a gut-wrenching, but intensely compelling drama about the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway from an Anti-Muslim extremist that left 77 dead, most of whom were children.
On July 21, 2011, Anders Breivik, a young Neo-Nazi, preps his van with explosives, while hundreds of teenagers arrive on the island of Utoya for an annual summer camp. One of those campers is Viljar Hanssen, who’s attending the camp with his little brother.
On July 22, Breivik parks his van full of explosives in front of an Oslo building housing the office of the Prime Minister of Norway. He drives away in another vehicle toward the island of Utoya, when the bomb he left explodes, killing eight people. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his government response team immediately go into crisis mode to find out who’s attacking them.
Not long after the bombing, Breivik, who’s wearing a police uniform, takes a ferry to Utoya island and immediately starts his murder spree. The children begin running and screaming as Breivik sickly shoots the teenagers down. Viljar, his brother and some other children hide on some cliffs on the outer edge of the island, but Breivik finds them and starts shooting. Viljar is shot five times and is left on the beach. Eventually, the police arrive on the island, and Breivik surrenders.
In the aftermath of the shooting, parents desperately look to see if their children survived, including Viljar’s parents. While his brother made it, Viljar is transporterd to the hospital in critical condition. The doctors are able to stabilize him, but one bullet that exploded in his skull left bullet fragments next to his brain the surgeons are unable to remove.
Meanwhile, Breivik requests his lawyer, Geir Lippestad, a liberal, but fair attorney who will make sure his client receives every right afforded to them. As the trial ramps up, and Viljar’s rehabilitation and recovery begins, everyone must figure out how to move forward after the horrifying events they experienced.
22 JULY is terrifically directed by Paul Greengrass (BOURNE ULTIMATUM, CAPTAIN PHILIPS). Similar to his 9/11 movie UNITED 93, the events portrayed in 22 JULY are extremely subdued. No flashy special effects, no American actors, just simple shots and outstanding performances that could almost be confused for documentary footage. Even the violence of the terrible attack is restrained quite a bit. The result is deeply unsettling and unnerving.
The motivations behind Breivik’s evil attacks are one of extreme hatred for Islam, Cultural Marxism and the socialist ideology which has run Norway for many decades. Before Breivik carried out the terrorist attack, he released a 1,500 page manifesto unveiling his reasons for the attack, with the hope of starting a war. The actual manifesto is all over the place. At times he claims to be a Christian, but claims he’s more of a cultural Christian and doesn’t practice religion, nor does he have a personal relationship with God. Later, he claimed to be an Odinist, believing in the Nordic gods, and stating, “There are few things in the world more pathetic than the Jesus figure and his message, and I have always despised the weakness and the internationalism that the church represents.” These clarifications are important to note, since Breivik was classified as a “Christian fundamentalist” by many in the media.
Greengrass wisely doesn’t use 22 JULY for overt political grandstanding. Other than a brief, nice monologue from Viljar at the beginning about how he values the cultures that have emigrated to his small town, there are no speeches attacking conservatives concerned about Islamic terrorism, and no climactic leftist diatribes. Instead, the movie’s main moral thrust is that Breivik’s hatred and violence are pure evil. Greengrass openly states that the movie serves as a warning against the surge of white nationalists and supremacists in both Europe and the United States. While they are a small minority of the population who pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ with their hateful, vindictive agenda, it has to be established among Christians and conservatives that believing in any kind of ethnic supremacy is a sin that’s antithetical to what the Bible teaches.
22 JULY has no direct response on how various western countries are handling the rapid influx of refugees and immigrants from around the world, but it does vividly paint a portrait showing the ugliness of a small, but vocal sect of individuals, guided by a worldview of hatred who unfortunately misrepresent true Christian and conservative belief. On the flip side, it’s actually abundantly clear that people of hatred, like Breivik and many others who hold similar agendas, are in desperate need of Jesus, who died on a cross to transform hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.
22 JULY contains intense moments of violence, with some gore and disturbing images. There’s also a smattering of “f” words. So, extreme caution is advised.
22 JULY tells the true story of a 2011 terrorist attack in Norway from Anti-Muslim extremist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people, most of whom were children. The movie shows the events from a few perspectives, including Breivik, one of the teenagers, Viljar, who was shot five times and survived, and an attorney who agrees to be Breivik’s attorney after the attack. Breivik hates the influx of immigrants and refugees in Norway and hopes to start an ethnic war to drive all other cultures out of Europe.
22 JULY is terrifically directed by Paul Greengrass (BOURNE ULTIMATUM, CAPTAIN PHILIPS). Similar to his 9/11 movie UNITED 93, the events portrayed in 22 JULY are extremely subdued. Greengrass wisely doesn’t use 22 JULY for overt political grandstanding, but he does paint a vivid portrait showing the ugliness of a small, but vocal sect of individuals, guided by a worldview of hatred who regrettably misrepresent true Christian and conservative beliefs. 22 JULY has intense moments of violence, with some gore and disturbing images. There’s also a smattering of “f” words. So, extreme caution is advised.