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Review: Camp X-Ray Never Reaches Its Full Potential, But Survives With Strong Performances

Posted on October 20, 2014 by
camp x-ray

Camp X-Ray tells the story of a young soldier named Cole (Kristen Stewart), who escapes her small town life in hopes to go on a tour of duty in Iraq. But as she is sent to a Guantánamo Bay prison instead, she ends up finding herself in charge of several Muslim inmates who don’t take her too warmly. Along the way, she ends up befriending Ali, one of the detainees played by Peyman Moaadi. And throughout the film, their unlikely friendship continues to grow stronger and more heartwarming.

Written and directed by Peter Sattler, this military indie has a lot to say, but never fully gets its message across. But while it is poorly paced and never rises from its full potential, it survives off the great chemistry between its leads and gives a fascinating look at life within the walls of the prison.

With this and Clouds of Sils Maria, Camp X-Ray is the second time this year we’ve been given a strong performance from Stewart. One could even say that she seems to on a mission to prove herself post-Twilight, as she seems to be finding more and more roles that suit her range.

[The film] survives off the great chemistry between its leads and gives a fascinating look at life within the walls of the prison.

But while I think she is stronger in Clouds, Stewart gives a very solid and memorable performance here and completely fits the role of Cole, who is distant and lonely. Her chemistry with Moaadi is surprising, and the two of them work well off one another.

The same can also be said for Moaadi, who also gives a fantastic performance that would be more buzzworthy had this been a stronger film. In fact, if the movie was stronger overall, I’d argue that Stewart could have probably gotten herself some awards buzz as well.

Camp X-Ray’s fault is that it never really gives us much to work with. The film goes over ideas such as sexism in the military and offers a look into the lives of the soldiers and the detained men, but none of these themes are fully realized. And by the end, you’re left feeling a bit empty.

Ultimately though, the film is boosted by Stewart and Moaadi, who make the best of what they are given. But while a solid project, it would have been nice for Sattler to dig deeper into its themes.

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