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Taxi to the Dark Side

5 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

December 2002. An innocent Afghani taxi driver named Dilawar was taken to the US base at Bagram on suspicion of involvement in a rocket attack. Five days later, he was dead from beatings so severe his legs would have to have been amputated had he survived. Just one more casualty in a murky conflict with no shortage of them, yet it’s also the starting point for this troubling, impassioned, elegantly framed documentary.

Following evidence from a New York Times reporter, filmmaker Alex Gibney (‘Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room’) traces this case and pulls back to reveal the bigger picture. The Bagram interrogators were reassigned to Abu Ghraib in Iraq, from which photos emerged to expose errant military personnel’s abuse of detainees and highlight the Bush administration’s concerted attempt to skirt international law on torture by devising new terms and techniques under the rubric ‘enhanced interrogation’. So, vice-president Dick Cheney’s post 9/11 declaration that ‘we have to work the dark side’ slides into the excesses of ‘extraordinary rendition’ and Guantanamo Bay’s detention without trial.

Those with war on terror fatigue could claim that they’ve heard it all before, yet Gibney’s film puts hard evidence onscreen to render the doublespeak of Rumsfeld and cohorts truly chilling, concentrating the arguments to prompt us to reaccess our outrage (and indeed ponder British standards of conduct). Angry but never hectoring, this Oscar-winning account of a nation’s moral haze is arguably the single most significant film to emerge from the Iraq conflict. Don’t be so blasé that you miss it.

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 13 June 2008
  • Duration:108 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Alex Gibney
  • Screenwriter:Alex Gibney
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