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Review: Taxi To The Dark Side (2007) R 106min

November 6th, 2008 by Maxim · 3 Comments · 8,344 Views


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Director Alex Gibney’s “Taxi To The Dark Side” won 2008 Oscar for Best Documentary.

The plot: “Taxi To The Dark Side” focuses on the story of an innocent Afghani taxi driver who was tortured to death by U.S. forces in Bagram airbase in Iraq in 2002. But his story is just a segway into in-depth look at U.S. policy changes after 9/11 that allowed torture and intimidation (a.k.a. “enhanced interrogation techniques”) and their application by U.S. troops and CIA during “war on terror” in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA prisons abroad. Featuring U.S. Attorney John Yoo, archival and TV footage of President George W. Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, Gonzalez, Rumsfeld and others.

The good: Very gruesome documentary – with uncensored photographs and video of abuses, hence the “R” rating. A very detailed documentary, with interviews of prison guards, archival and TV footage of Bush and his team, as well as deep look into torture, sleep deprivation, forced standing, and psychological abuse techniques. Once the news of abuse of Abu Ghraib got out and created a world-wide scandal, several soldiers were punished. But the documentary proves that the abuse and torture was sanctioned from the highest echelons of power, all the way to Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. This point of view is very well substantiated by facts and documents presented in the movie. Military law, Geneva Conventions, human rights are also reviewed by law experts in the movie. Additionally, the filmmakers state that about 95% of all detainees were innocent since U.S. was paying Afghani Northern Alliance and Pakistanis for each “terrorist” they deliver. Also, the movie credits senator John McCain, who himself withstood nearly 6 years of torture, for standing out to Bushies on the issue of torture. However even he, in preparation for the run for presidency, voted to approve indemnity of president Bush from any charges of violation of Geneva Conventions.

Also, the strong point of the movie is the interviews with interrogators convicted for their abuses. But the strongest part of the movie is appearance of the director’s father, who was interrogator during WWII, who was disgusted, disturbed and outraged with these new “interrogation techniques” and lamented the loss of the ideals and principals during the years of Bush rule for which U.S. used to be admired for.

Great film editing. Good music.

The bad: The other side got no chance to explain itself, which, in a way, is unfair, but fact remains that the abuses were sanctioned by Bush administration and the only way they could justify torture is what we heard before: it’s all for the greater good and “freedom is not free”. The intelligence community has to be able to get information to save lives of US soldiers and US civilians. Hated those little re-enactments – they were completely unnecessary – leave them to CNN or Fox News. Also, it’s rather hard to watch due to slowness and length of narration.

Memorable quotes:

George W. Bush:  “Put it this way – they’re no longer a problem to the United States”

Jack Cloonan: “Even after Abu Ghraib, 60% of Americans believed that torture is permissible under some circumstances”

Narrator: As of September 2006 the number of detainees reach 86,000. None of them were convicted.

Similar movies to see: “Rendition”, “The Road To Guantanamo

The cast: Narrator – Alex Gibney | Torture Victim – Moazzam Begg | Dick Cheney | George W. Bush | Donald Rumsfeld | John Yoo (U.S. Attorney, Department of Justice) | Jack Cloonan (former FBI agent) | Alfred W. McCoy (Professor of political history) | Lawrence Wilkerson - retired US Army Colonel | Maan Kaassamani - Detainee | Brian Keith Allen (U.S. War Soldier) | Gita Gutierrez (Attorney) | Scott Horton - President of International League of Human Rights

The crew: Director – Alex Gibney | Screenplay – Alex Gibney | Producers – Sidney Blumenthal, Martin Fisher, Blair Foster, Alex Gibney, Don Glascoff, Robert Johnson, Sloane Klevin, Eva Orner, Susannah Shipman, Jedd Wider, Todd Wider | Original Music – Ivor Guest | Cinematography – Maryse Alberti, Greg Andracke | Film Editing – Sloane Klevin

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Rated 5/5 on Nov 6 2008
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Tags: DVD · Documentary · Drama · Movies · USA

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Eugene // Nov 7, 2008 at 12:45 am

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    This was a really eye opening movie. The most amazing fact was that out of approximately 100 thousand detainees only one actually was tried.

  • 2 Erickson // Nov 9, 2008 at 4:40 am

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    Nice movie for me, I can have it rate 8 thats my opinion.

  • 3 Taylor // Jun 6, 2009 at 7:06 am

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    Really enjoyed the read, ill add to my feed, thanks.

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