Battle for Haditha ★★★★

Shot in a documentary style without a detailed script and told from three different points of view (that of the U.S. Marines, the insurgents, and the Iraqi civilians caught in the middle) without demonization, "Battle for Haditha" is an engaging, highly realistic, and powerful film about the Haditha killings/incident/massacre, which took place in Iraq on November 19, 2005; however, it is not a documentary. There are some very disturbing scenes in the movie, and it has a few contrived moments as well. The characters are not fully developed, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, considering the film’s documentary approach. Elliot Ruiz is very good and believable as Corporal Ramirez, and his experiences as a former Marine (at age 17, Ruiz was the youngest Marine to have been deployed to Iraq) give his strong performance an additional dimension: the scars seen in one scene are real (he was seriously wounded during a mission in Iraq), and Ruiz actually suffers a breakdown in the scene in which his character breaks down in a bathroom; most of the cast are non-professional actors who have first-hand experience of the war in Iraq.