Cole (Kristen Stewart) joins the military post 9/11 and is stationed as a guard at Guantanamo Bay. Inside, she finds that things are far more complicated than expected as she befriends a detainee and learns that not everything in war is cut and dry.
The detainees at Guantanamo Bay are not all criminals. It is important to remember that they are detainees and not prisoners because detainees are not subject to the Geneva Convention, which means that they are not entitled to the ethical treatment that prisoners are given. Call it a loophole, if you will. Now, these detainees have been kept in captivity for eight years and the soldiers standing guard are under the impression that they are all evil criminals, but we learn they are just people, like us, with different beliefs.
One detainee, Ali (Payman Maadi) is obviously an intelligent guy. He is well read and speaks English where no other detainee seems to. He has been in trouble almost every single day he has been in captivity either due to boredom or to just wanting to play the role he has been cast in.
While the guards aren’t supposed to talk to or let the detainees know anything about them, Cole seems to be the only person who understands that these men are people, which gives her the ability to befriend one. She recognizes the small space they are given to live and that simple luxuries such as the last Harry Potter book are not readily available to these men and, while America has painted themselves the good guys in this war, perhaps things aren’t so one sided.
Back when Twilight came out, it may have been popular to criticize Kristen Stewart for being a bad actress, capable of only one facial expression. I can understand the judgement of Twilight as it was hardly a cinematic masterpiece, nor did anyone in it give an Oscar worthy performance. However, after seeing Camp X-Ray, a film that gave Kristen the opportunity to show more than one dimension, I can no longer excuse such a judgement. Her acting in Camp X-Ray is anything but amateur and the chemistry between Cole and Ali is not only believable but painfully beautiful.
Payman Maadi is outstanding as Ali. He is forced to singlehandedly represent the entirety of the Muslim nation and, while we know there are some Muslim people that want to harm others for their beliefs, Ali forces us to realize that not ALL Muslim people want to harm others.
Camp X-Ray is a thoughtful and touching film that really makes you look at the war in a different light. In fact, it makes you look at everyone involved in the war in a different light. There are people on both sides that are good just as there are people on both sides that are bad, but we cannot judge the good ones based on the actions of those that have done bad.
Camp X-Ray is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from IFC Films.
Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. She is also the American Correspondent for Lovehorror.co.uk and writer for Geekandstuff.com. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter