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Battle in Seattle (DVD Review)

8 Feb, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Battle in Seattle

Prebook 2/10/09; Street 3/10/09
Universal/Screen Media
Action Drama
Box Office $0.2 million
$14.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for language and some violence.
Stars Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, Michelle Rodriguez, André Benjamin, Martin Henderson, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Carpenter.

In 1999, the World Trade Organization held its biennial ministerial meetings in Seattle. Tens of thousands of demonstrators and anarchists descended upon the city to protest the 153-member-country group, alleging it to be nothing more than a shill for international conglomerates and corporations at the expense of the poor, indigenous and small businesses and traditions.

Against this backdrop, including actual news footage, actor Stuart Townsend in his first directorial effort attempts to weave the fictional lives of six disparate people caught up in the events that begin peacefully before turning into a full-scale riot.

The Seattle mayor (Ray Liotta) is faced with the dilemma of calling in the National Guard after promising protest organizers he wouldn’t. A SWAT officer (Woody Harrelson) and his pregnant wife (Charlize Theron) discover the pitfalls of being on the front line by happenstance and duty (undoubtedly, the film’s strongest plot line).

Protesters Lou (Michelle Rodriguez from the upcoming Fast & Furious), Jay (Martin Henderson), Sam (Jennifer Carpenter of “Dexter”) and Django (Outkast’s André Benjamin) quickly become caught up in the crossfire while also tackling personal and political demons.

Human foibles juxtaposed against international history (Doctor Zhivago) or race relations (Crash) work best if the viewer is enticed enough to care. Battle in Seattle is somewhat lacking in this department, but it does sport a superb soundtrack.

When a climatic scene revolves around whether arrested protesters will be released from jail (they always are), Battle has the feel of a made-for-TV movie.

Home video extras include commentary with Townsend, the making-of featurette “The Making of Battle in Seattle,” and the featurette “The Real World Trade Leaders.”

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