Watson Reviews: 22 July (Spoiler Free)

Netflix got another big time director, Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy) to put forward a serious movie.

Apparently, Netflix doesn’t put out good movies in the summer but save them for Oscar season.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Based on the true events of July 22, 2011 in Oslo Norway, 22 July retells the horrific simultaneous attacks by right wing terrorists on the nation’s government headquarters and an elite summer camp for kids in the nearby suburbs.

The film begins with the attacks, but follows the characters, including the attacker and his victims, through the trials and aftermath.

WHAT WORKED:

  • The villain carried the film. Norwegian actor Anders Danielsen Lie shines as the evil Anders Behring Breivik.  He is so smug in his racial superiority that he goes beyond a vague threat and highlights the threat of this strain of hateful evil.  Lie’s Breivik makes the film truly special because without his inclusion, it would be a straightforward terror attack movie we’ve seen a dozen times.
  • It is a beautifully shot film. Greengrass brings his pedigree to Netflix and shot a gorgeous film; leveraging the Norway scenery.  Greengrass’s style always has great use of whites and drab blues in his shots and it really works for the mood of this film.
  • The material is sadly still timely. This film is the intersection of terror and alt-right ideology. Sadly, both of those threats have only gotten worse since the 22 July attacks.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

  • It’s risky to give the terrorist platform. Though Breivik’s inclusion as a main character in the film made it special, Greengrass had to be careful not to give Breivik’s views a platform.  He threaded the needle carefully, but I can see Breivik sitting in prison proud that his evil shit was discussed.
  • Some of the aftermath scenes were a little slow. Greengrass follows the lives of the kids and families impacted, which is a rich vein of drama, but at times it was a little slow and plodding.
  • Be prepared to hurt. This movie is painful to watch at times because it pulls no punches.  As a parent, it was very difficult to watch this monster callously kill children for no reason other than his ideological hate.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This was a smart movie and the blueprint Netflix should follow for their premium movies.  Greengrass is an A-list director and brought his full talents to bear.  This is a difficult but amazing film.

Overall, I give 22 July a score of 9 “Brave Spirits” out of 10.

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