The Bang Bang Club (2010)
Directed by Steven Silver
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch
Steven Silver moved his directing career in a new direction with this film. Silver has been a documentary filmmaker for 10 years and The Bang Bang Club was his first attempt at a feature film. The movie stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, and Taylor Kitsch. Phillippe has been in a number of good movies including The Lincoln Lawyer and White Squall. Malin Akerman has made a career with movies quite different in subject from this one. Her films include 27 Dresses and The Proposal. Taylor Kitsch could be considered a rising star. He’s in the big-budget Disney film John Carter, and has had roles in movies like The Covanent and John Tucker Must Die.
This movie is the true story of a group of war photographers who grouped together and formed the Bang Bang Club. The club included Kevin Carter (Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek, Greg Marinovich (Phillippe), and João Silva. During the anti-Apartheid violence in South Africa these four men risked their lives to capture images from the townships. As they sought out the next big moment, the put their lives in danger for the sake of the perfect frame. They had opposition from the South African government, as well as the people on the other side of the fight who didn’t trust them. On their side were the people in the fight who wanted the world to see the truth. This included editor Robin Comley (Akerman), who did everything she could to publish the images. This group of brave individuals didn’t change the way things went, they just captured the events as they unfolded. In the end they would all have a price top pay for what they had seen.
This is a really well-made movie. The action and the violence is portrayed throughout the film with harsh realism. The actors all seem to fit the roles they’ve been given as well. It was interesting to see them in action with cameras. They all seemed comfortable behind their lenses which added to the authenticity of the story.
Any criticism from the movie is the lack of time spent on the background of the men at the center of the story. The film initially focuses on Marinovich and only later expands it’s view. This might have been the only way to make this movie without it being 3 hours long, but I would have liked a tiny bit more information.
Having spent some time in South Africa, I understand how this period of time affected the people who lived there. The images these men took changed the way the world learned about the violence in South Africa and other countries. This film didn’t attempt to capture the whole story, just the moments when certain iconic images were taken. I think this is an incredible look at some unknown events from our recent world history. The movie doesn’t pull any punches so if you’re not able to handle violence this might not be the one for you. I give this movie 4.3 out of 5 stars.