Standard Operating Procedure

A glossy, slick, expertly photographed look at the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Director Errol Morris mixes interviews with re-enactments to create what is easily the most morally confused movie of the year. Instead of doing the investigative work needed to find the midlevel Army and intelligence personnel who passed along orders that violate United States and international law, Morris just lets the convicted enlisted people talk about a mysterious “them” who should take the blame. Even worse is the extent to which statements by Lynndie England, Sabrina Harmon and Megan Ambuhl are left unchallenged; they continually excuse and downplay their actions, foisting blame on people just outside the frame of the infamous Abu Ghraib photos. But the worst aspect of this film is the way in which Morris indulges his love of overly pretty, effects-heavy cinema, as though the abuse and torture of prisoners were just an excuse for him to lovingly shoot light glinting off a pool of blood while soft and inviting music plays in the background. On the whole, this is a travesty.

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