DOCUMENTARY REVIEW RATING: JUST ABOUT AVERAGE...
GUNNER PALACE is a good look at soldiering in Iraq. But it's not a great documentary.
Since I'm an optomist, though, I'll start with the positives of the film ...
GUNNER PALACE is a startling look inside the Iraq war. But it's not told from the documentary maker's standpoint; it's told from the men and women who are there, everyday, fighting to just stay alive and, sometimes, fighting off boredom.
Music permeates the film as Vietnam era songs (FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIE, etc.) mix with rap songs performed and created by the soldiers themselves. It's as if there's a connection being made between that lost war of the 60s and 70s and that which our young fighters are going through in the deserts and city streets of Iraq. I found this intriguing and pretty insightful into the minds of our Armed Forces.
Contrary to what I've read in other reviews, I found that the documentary maker (Mike Tucker) DID ask pertinent questions ("Do you feel you're doing a good job?" "What do you think the people back home think about what you're doing over here?" etc.) These are excellent questions to ask and allows the viewer a peek into the soldiers' minds.
I could also feel some of the tension the men and women go through as they describe cringing at a piece of trash alongside the road, wondering if its an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) waiting to destroy their vehicle as they pass.
Where the documentary fell apart a bit was the overall flow of the story. There isn't one. The herky-jerky movement from place to place and person to person allowed for minimal immersion into various aspects of the war and these soldiers' experiences. Although some of this information came across, it should've been in a much smoother fashion.
Let me end this review by saying that I respect what our Armed Forces are doing in Iraq. Although I don't agree with our current U.S. government administration and how this war came to be, I'm humbled by how dedicated our young men and women soldiers are "over there."