Johnny Mad Dog (15)

Film

War films

Johnny_mad_dog.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Tue Oct 20 2009

It’s something of a travesty that this sense-battering vérité war movie which follows a ferocious battalion of dead-eyed boy soldiers as they help to overthrow a tinpot dictator in an unnamed African state is being released on just three screens in London. Debut director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire shows all the technical moxie and in-your-face urgency of Paul Greengrass at his best, shooting the film in a clipped, docu-realist style that gives it the tension, the political profundity and the emotional wallop of even the classiest multiplex genre fare. Clad in dressing-up-box attire, including wedding dresses, fairy wings, wigs and crash helmets, this 15-strong unit of trigger-happy, pill-popping teens (all superbly brought to life by real Liberian youngsters, some actual ex-fighters) browbeat, exploit and murder all who stand in their way.

Like Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’, this is a film about the cultural influence of war: the vernacular, the attire, even the occasional sliver of dark poetry that can emerge from its dank recesses. The dialogue is made up almost entirely of patriotic clichés, machismo-fanning mantras and call-and-response chants. The film sees war as a deadener of moral and physical inhibition, a paradoxical state where there are no winners or losers, just the living and the dead. Stunning.
0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Oct 23, 2009

Duration:

97 mins

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|2
1 person listening
John Clay

This is a must-see film, not just for its filmic qualities but for its implicit focus on what the West has contributed to Africa. Here boy soliders mimic Hollywood action heroes, using the same war chants and buddy relationships, boosting each other pre-battle. But it's the availability of guns that defines them, their premature flailing and flaunting of guns [Uzis in particular are named]. This is what promotion of guns and Rambo-like gesturing has led to. We in the West need to set a better example. Africa is Africa - let it remain so. In the end, the film hints that women can rectify the distortion that rampant maleness brings. It's to the great credit of the Liberian government under President Sirleaf-Johnson that they approved of this film and let it be shot in Liberia, willing no doubt to learn the lessons of history, just as we should be doing in Afghanistan. The acting and sheer screen presence of the leading child soldiers were outstanding, as was the energy and discretion of the director. The film deserves to be seen by policy-makers, and certainly given a wider showing here.

John Clay

This is a must-see film, not just for its filmic qualities but for its implicit focus on what the West has contributed to Africa. Here boy soliders mimic Hollywood action heroes, using the same war chants and buddy relationships, boosting each other pre-battle. But it's the availability of guns that defines them, their premature flailing and flaunting of guns [Uzis in particular are named]. This is what promotion of guns and Rambo-like gesturing has led to. We in the West need to set a better example. Africa is Africa - let it remain so. In the end, the film hints that women can rectify the distortion that rampant maleness brings. It's to the great credit of the Liberian government under President Sirleaf-Johnson that they approved of this film and let it be shot in Liberia, willing no doubt to learn the lessons of history, just as we should be doing in Afghanistan. The acting and sheer screen presence of the leading child soldiers were outstanding, as was the energy and discretion of the director. The film deserves to be seen by policy-makers, and certainly given a wider showing here.