No End in Sight
Directed by Charles Ferguson. Narrated by Campbell Scott. (2007, NR, 102 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 31, 2007
Tears are cheap, lives cheaper, and reality itself little more than a dusty, flyblown casualty of war. Pick your colors; fly your flag (or burn it) – no matter what endgame you envision for America's war in Iraq, the final toll will be weighed not in history's hindsight but in what happens both over there and over here, now. Truth dies first and hardest in any war, and society's best of all possible ambitions are almost always hamstrung by bloodshed, a tired but dead-on truism that elevates this thoroughly nonpartisan documentary about the causes of the ongoing Iraq debacle out of the realm of mere reportage into something approaching explanatory genius. Producer Alex Gibney helmed another smart-as-a-whip doc, the feisty, maddening Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. No End in Sight shares a calm, damning lucidity with that film in that it goes to great lengths to assemble interview footage with the best and the brightest from both sides of the political spectrum, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, and several boots-on-the-ground Marine grunts – all of whom bemoan the disastrous nonwork of Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer, war architect Donald Rumsfeld (who here comes off looking like Robert McNamarra's eviler, more woefully headstrong, strategic twin), and an administration that ignored virtually every intelligence report tossed their way. Instead, the administration adopted a bizarre laissez-faire attitude, which allowed the post-invasion looting and anarchy that the movie links to the hobbling of both Baghdad and U.S. foreign policy to this day. Narrated with a detached, grim authority by Campbell Scott, Ferguson's film is surely the most nonhistrionic cinematic explanation of our current geopolitical woes yet seen. Whether showing U.S.-media-censored footage of dead civilians or patiently revisiting those first few jokers upon whom the entire house of cards that is the United States' post-Saddam Iraq "strategy" is based, No End in Sight is never condescending or obvious or dull. To our dawning horror – and to the simmering outrage of so many of the high and perhaps not-so-mighty interviewed during the course of this film – we see the black backside of history unfolded, bent, and broken on what only can be seen, clearly and minus any Monday morning rose-tinting, as a crucible of willful ignorance and mendacity. It's enough to make you weep.