Newsflash: war is still hell. Having put Bruce Willis through the wringer in 2005’s Hostage, French director Florent-Emilio Siri draws a bead on his own country’s bloody, futile ground battles during the Algerian War. Politics, though, are left back in the barracks as Siri rolls out a series of genre familiars for a guilty standard-issue combat pic. Stepping into the shoes of an officer killed by friendly fire, green idealist Lieutenant T (Benoît Magimel) is shaken to his shiny boots by the brutal ironies and the atrocities of war. Guerrilla skirmishes and mountain ambushes are lensed for a vivid, visceral kick, flexing between tension and panic as the body count mounts and Terrien cracks up. When the dust settles, Siri’s predictable effort finds little new to say – about his country’s own conflict or any other.
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