Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers

Movie Information

Genre: Documentary
Director: Robert Greenwald
Starring: Bud Conyers, Janis Karpinski, James Logsdon, Bill Peterson
Rated: NR

Robert Greenwald doesn’t make films with an eye toward being fair and balanced, but then again, unlike the news organization he tackled in his Outfoxed documentary, he doesn’t make any such claims. He’s a fire-breathing liberal and proud of it — and he makes his films without pulling punches. Charges that Greenwald has an agenda are ridiculous, since he doesn’t claim not to have one. Claims that he’s preaching to the choir are beside the point. Greenwald is less preaching to the choir than trying to rile them into action. His films lack most of the cinematic invention of Michael Moore and nearly all of Moore’s wit, but Greenwald offers something perhaps more useful: righteous indignation.

Nowhere is this more evident than in his latest offering, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, in which Greenwald turns his attention to the big-business interests in the war on Iraq. In many respects, Greenwald presents very little about the abuses of corporate America in Iraq — often in apparent cahoots with, or at least with the knowledge of the government. The no-bid contracts handed out to Halliburton (which just happens to have contacts to Vice President Cheney) and other companies aren’t news. But as is often the case with films of this sort — Moore’s films also work this way — it’s not the unearthing of new facts so much as it is confining them to one space, thereby bringing their collective enormity into view.

Greenwald goes further, though, by personalizing these events. As he did with his earlier films, Greenwald lets those who have been directly impacted speak, removing the events from abstract news stories. It’s powerful — well researched and feels authentic — and it needs to be seen. Sure, it won’t be seen by the people most in need of seeing it, but it might just energize others into moving away from apathy born of a sense of helplessness.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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