Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Taxi to the Dark Side

Taxi to the Dark Side

Rated: R for disturbing images, and content involving torture and graphic nudity
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: January 18, 2008 Released by: Think Film

Alex Gibney's Oscar-winning documentary is a powerfully humanistic, yet horrifying piece of work that is a fine companion to other recent cinema verite like Charles Ferguson's No End In Sight.

In Taxi To The Dark Side, interrogation has never taken a more perversely wicked turn if Gibney's late Navy father indicated during the end credit scroll demonstrates.

There's something intimate and deeply poignant on display while the "war on terror" goes on in the Bush Administration. Especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.

Gibney, who made the detailed, fascinating Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, finds its lynchpin in the form of an Afghan cab driver named Dilawar brought into US custody related to a 2002 bombing. He died within days of a reported homicide after being brought into Bagram Air Force Base.

While keeping the focus on Dilawar and his family has a wrenching effect, the incisively, attentive filmmaker sets into motion stateside "interviewing" by Washington operatives, enforced often by interrogating acolytes.

The talking heads includes reporters and politically-charged officials, along with sentenced soldiers who interrogated at Bagram and those formerly incarcerated.

One can't help feeling the tragic irony of what goes on in the name of policing this kind of rendition at a harsh detriment to the supposed intent. Anger can easily come toward the many who put these "policies" into place.

Gibney scales it all with imperious, unshrill evocative flair, working with his crew to make it feel richly crisp, even cunning. Taxi To The Dark Side goes beyond the media coverage to make this American misstep devastating in a personal, passionate way.

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