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Featured DVD Review: Born of War

January 26th, 2015

Born of War - Buy from Amazon: DVD

Born of War was shot in the winter of 2011-2012, but it is just getting a direct-to-DVD release this week. That's a bad sign. Is it a forgotten gem? Or is there a reason it was delayed this long?

The Movie

The film begins 22 years in the past in Afghanistan. A leader of a local tribe, Khalid Zeerak, is talking to some of the locals when he instructs his son, Musab, to be with the nanny, an English woman. The village is attacked and Musab is among the casualties. One of the villagers accuses the nanny of being a spy, so she runs away before she is killed.

Flash forward 22 years and we meet Mina, a college student living with her family in Oxford. She has trouble fitting in, as she still lives with her family at their farm. One night, she and her younger sister, Dee, are staying up late when a group of men break into their home. Mina hides Dee and calls the cops, but the lines have been cut. The men tie up Mina's parents and then one of them goes to get Mina, whom they know by name. The family fights back and this gives enough time for Mina and Dee to escape, eventually, but her parents are killed. I won't go into details how she escapes (the scene does go on too long) but it ends with her in a hospital.

In fact, Mina wakes up in a MI6 private hospital. Mina is told her mother traveled to Afghanistan before she was born, meeting Khalid Zeerak after being robbed by bandits, and her mother was accused of being a spy, despite just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Khalid gave her a job, but the Soviets attacked his home and killed his son in the process. I know, I've already told you this, but the movie sees fit to tell us twice, so I figure it must be really important. Mina wants to talk to her sister, but she can't because Dee thinks she's dead. Everyone thinks she's dead. It's the best way to keep her alive.

Mina is given a new name and a handler, Simon, and a place to stay. It isn't long before Khalid Zeerak's men track her down and Mina and Simon have to flee. It is after this attack that Mina learn's the truth. Khalid Zeerak is her father and since Mina is his only living child, he wants her back. When Mina learns that Khalid Zeerak attacked Dee again, she volunteers to be caught by his men, so that MI6 can use her to track down Khalid Zeerak and take him out once and for all. Since this can't be an official mission, Simon is put in charge and he gives her a little training, just in case.

I'm of two minds when it comes to Born of War. Firstly, it is a low-budget movie and you can tell. The action scenes look cheap and go on too long. However, the plot of the movie isn't nearly as "generic action film" as I feared it would be. There's a good twist a little more than halfway through the movie and the film takes a much more nuanced look at the war in Afghanistan than most other movies do. I can't go into details because of spoilers, but remember, it starts out more than 20 years in the past when it was the Soviets invading Afghanistan. The acting is good and I think Sofia Black D'Elia did very well as the lead. The directing is good, especially when considering this is only writer / director Vicky Jewson's second film and she was only 26 years old at the start of production. She needs a little more experience and the film could have used a little more polish, but it is better than most direct-to-DVD action films I've seen.

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD is a 24-minute long making of featurette.

The Verdict

Born of War is better than the average direct-to-DVD action film and has a much smarter script that I was expecting, but the execution was hampered by the budget. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD, but it is worth a rental.

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Filed under: Video Review, Born of War, James Frain, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Vicky Jewson