With Battle for Haditha, British documentarian Nick Broomfield brandishes his verité techniques for a fictional recreation of the November 2005 killing of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines. Aspiring to be a modern Battle of Algiers, the film falls far short of that lofty goal, hawking standard-issue characterizations and leaden cause-effect analysis to humdrum effect.

To be sure, Broomfield generates palpable you-are-there immediacy, especially during the final act, when his camera's close proximity to its subjects (American and Iraqi alike) amplifies the mounting mania and fury that's been simmering for the prior hour. Such intensity, however, doesn't come equipped with matching insightfulness, as the depictions of its various players - marines, everyday citizens, and insurgents - are fashioned after now-familiar, simplistic psychological molds and action-reaction dynamics.

categories Reviews, Cinematical