Directed By: Jason Laperye & Robert Wilson
Written By: Jason Lapeyre
Cinematography By: Ray Dumas
Editor: Aaron Marshall
Cast: Siam Yu, Gage Munroe, Michael Friend, Aidan Gouveia, Mackenzie Munro, Alex Cardillo
Armed with nothing more than twigs, their imaginations and a simple set of rules, a group of 12-year-olds engaged in a lively game of Capture the Flag in the neighborhood woods start dangerously blurring the lines between make-believe and reality. Paint-filled balloons = Grenades. Trees = Control towers. Sticks = Sub-machine guns. The youthful innocence of the game gradually takes on a different tone as the quest for victory pushes the boundaries of friendship. The would-be warriors get a searing glimpse of humanity’s dark side as their combat scenario takes them beyond the rules of the game and into an adventure where fantasy combat clashes with the real world.
The film draws us in as the story gets deeper at first it seems like a rather simple and fun premise. A bunch of kids playing war.
Naturally the kids take the game seriously, so that it becomes their world In their imagination tend their weapons of sticks, stones and paint into what looks like real loaded assault weapons. Which is the way the audience constantly sees it anyway. Which leads to an excitement, shock and is particularly jarring as the film goes along. Just as the stakes seem to become higher and the participants take the game too seriously as they read into it past grievances. Deep seated tension and feeling boil over using the war that has stirred them up as an excuse to exact revenge. Which makes way for more and more real violence.
One element of the film that is different is the one girl in the film learning, during the war. The power of seduction and what her beauty can do to boys. While she has her own agenda for fighting the war.
Holds true to the adage beware the wrath Of a woman scorned. Especially one who is playing with more strategy then anyone else. At first we are as foolish as all of them as she appears to be an innocent and is a secret weapon Herself. That i don’t even think she realized at first, but learns to adapt.
As in all wars, it brings out the ugliness some might say true selves of it’s participants.
At times it’s hard to remember they are children after all. Which ultimately is what works in the films favor and grounds it.
The audience feels like a witness to an afternoon game of pretend. Only on the same wavelength and purely in the heads of the participants.
Some of the performances are less then compelling, but passable and their are no adult actors in the film. Though with assured direction it evens the film out.
I am sure there is some social commentary in here. With issues of faith, temptation, friendship, morals and loyalty all brought up.
Everyone had their own agenda, some just take it more seriously then others and take it too far.
Though it’s a war film involving children. It’s more a film for older teens then young kids or a kids film or adults.
It’s a shame as this seems the ultimate kid fantasy and harkens back to when I was young and their were films for kids centered around them and play that were fun die to the belief that anything can happen like watching imaginations come to life. Where kids could be put in rough situations or peril and it not seem cruel or punishing headed for tragedy. Maybe it was kids-ploitation give them Ideas and testing them in equal footing as adults. Films such as THE PEANUT BUTTER SITUATION, THE DOG WHO STOPPED THE WAR, KENNY & CO., and KIDCO.
Though it does promote the power of the imagination to a degree when allowing to give of yourself.
As players get wise their innocence over way to a cold blooded ruthlessness thirst of victory. Not really mattering who they hurt and if it allows them to get revenge all the better.
No real violence in the film. Though it does get brutal and has graphic violence. As the film goes along each main character seem to be playing their own endgame ad getting lost in their daydreams of glory at times. The film continuously keeps seeming like it is trying to say something and either drops it or never makes it clear like it got bored with the idea, or couldn’t think of a follow through so it dropped it.
The film heats up as does the climate leading to a sizzling sweat drenched finale.
In the end no matter who wins their will always be casualties.