"Refreshingly Pro-Soldier Documentary"
What You Need To Know:
GUNNER PALACE is mostly apolitical, for which it should be commended during this time of political polarization. It is also very affectionate towards the soldiers. Unfortunately, the soldiers’ stories are told one after the other, with little pattern or reason. Many viewers will wonder what the filmmaker’s point was. Frequent use of the ‘f’ word and racial epithets makes the movie unsuitable for young teenagers, but the war violence is light. Trying to teach Americans about what their troops are doing is an admirable aim, but GUNNER PALACE flails around too much and teaches too little.
(BB, PP, PaPa, LLL, V, S, D, MM) Strong, but mixed, moral worldview with patriotic elements sympathetic to American soldiers at war, with some scenes of soldiers helping a child and repairing a local school, as well as some strong pagan, immoral content; 57 obscenities with lots of ‘f’ words and two light profanities, with six racial epithets used in rap songs; shooting in Iraqi streets, soldier teaches civilian lady to shoot a gun, children throw rocks at soldiers’ truck, descriptions of war attacks, and soldiers seize a house; crude sexual references; no nudity; no alcohol; smoking; and, some soldiers cruelly trick Iraqis into thinking they are going to be sent to Cuban prison, and some U.S. soldiers senselessly mock Iraqi culture.
GUNNER PALACE purports to give a ‘different’ view of the war in Iraq than what people see on the news. Thus, it aims to give the at-home crowd a glimpse of what our brave troops are doing overseas. Surely these intentions are good, but the movie lacks coherency or a real “story” to tell.
Gunner Palace is what U.S. troops call a bombed out palace that once belonged to Uday Hussein. They are essentially camping out in the wreckage, basing their local operations out of this one-time “pleasure palace.” The swimming pool in the back provides a space for occasional breaks.
Soldiers are filmed as they patrol the city, inspect suspicious packages and pick up members of Saddam’s regime. There are some scenes of soldiers helping a child and repairing a local school. The soldiers have little rapport with Iraqi citizens, however. Some soldiers are grateful for the Army and its opportunities. Others voice their frustrations with an unambitious Iraq and an unconcerned America.
GUNNER PALACE is mostly apolitical, for which it should be commended during this nagging, wearying time of political polarization. It is also very affectionate towards the soldiers. Unfortunately, the movie contains no narrative backbone and feels something like leafing through a friend’s vacation scrapbook. The soldiers’ stories are told one after the other, with little pattern or reason. Many viewers will wonder what the filmmaker’s point was.
Frequent use of the ‘f’ word and racial epithets makes the movie unsuitable for young teenagers. The war violence is very light and would not be objectionable to most people. The director attempts some arty editing techniques, perhaps even trying to imitate Quentin Tarantino, but these tricks backfire and only make the movie more confusing and aimless.
An interesting aside – and an unintended outcome, most likely – is that some of the soldiers come off as extremely insensitive and almost hateful of the Iraqis. One of them wears a white robe and a mop on his chin to imitate the locals. Much worse, one soldier “jokingly” tricks two Iraqi men into thinking that they are being sent to a notoriously rough Cuban prison. This behavior is in no way biblical or godly, and it adds fuel to the already suffering reputation that the United States is garnering internationally.
To teach Americans about what our troops are doing is an admirable aim, but GUNNER PALACE flails around too much and teaches too little. It is refreshingly pro-soldier, however.