Want to kick start a drinking problem? Just give "No End in Sight" a look, and you're assured a cold, dark night ingesting anything nearby that will sooth the post-viewing depression.
So, the Iraq War. What a pickle, right? In the years since "Fahrenheit 9/11" went ballistic at the box office, there's been a swarm of Iraq-flavored documentaries to shoot down the release pipe, all staking out their own corners of the conflict to investigate. Most take the assured position of what's happening now. "No End" dares to launch the chilling question, where is all this going?
Director Charles Ferguson has assembled a highly literate and efficient motion picture about a tremendously complicated subject. I'm not sure where Ferguson found the willpower to complete the picture, but his take on Iraq diplomacy (or the lack thereof) is easily the best of the trendy documentaries to date, or at least the most direct punch to the gut. It's a barnstorming purge of accusations and revelations tracing how the Iraq War went from something of manufactured pride to a sinkhole of despair.
Narrated by Campbell Scott, "No End" is procedural in tone, coldly reintroducing the events that preceded the invasion/liberation, fighting to rally a focused peek at American power at its most brazenly misinformed. The suspects are usual: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. They make up a perfect storm of deception and arrogance, but "No End" isn't consumed with nailing them to the wall. The picture uses the familiar to head into the unknown, concentrating on the chaos of Iraq, the anger that has spread like a virus inside the country, and the lack of leadership that has taken America past the point of no return.
There's a special pocket of venom reserved for Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), who took the reigns of Iraq in 2003 and promptly sprayed gasoline on the fire. "No End" is more than willing to underline the fact that most of the Iraq War decision makers have no military training, cannot speak Arabic, and never even visited Iraq; but Bremer's action to disband the Iraqi Army, thus creating a colossal force of bitter, armed insurgents in a matter of hours, is the thread that Ferguson ties directly to where we are today. It's a fascinating reveal of clarity in a conflict that's drowning in disorder.
"No End," with its surplus of concerned party interviews, brutal war footage, and literal charting of blame, uncovers a disturbing picture of a situation that's now beyond repair. American forces are stuck in hell, the Bush Administration is in full backpedal mode, and Iraq is quickly being divvied up by any force of power that will have her. It's an impossible situation, and "No End in Sight" is brave enough to introduce that frightening thought.
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