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TIFF 2018 Review: “22 July” (2018) ★★★★


Why do we constantly need to make movies about terrorists or about individuals that do not care about human life? Individuals that are willing to claim as many lives as they can to prove some strange points that make no sense? We all remember what happened on July 22, 2011 when a Norwegian far-right terrorist began three attacks, concluding the deadliest one at the Utoya Island targeting a Worker’s Youth Campus to kill future leaders.

Directed by Paul Greengrass, “22 July” is a powerfully directed thriller that concentrates on the deadly day and its aftermath, how it changed the shape of Norway, police response, the lawyer that was chosen by Andres Breivik and the terrorist’s demand to ban all Muslim immigrants from entering Europe. During his attack, the man would follow one target after another shooting at them. What is more terrifying is that he would not leave the scene until he ensures that every last one has died.

As soon as the film starts, the viewer finds Breivik slowly and with exquisite patience preparing for his attack at the government building. His attitude and mental readiness to perpetrate Norway’s most deadly attack strikes the viewer right from the beginning. In every passing minute he never hesitates or thinks twice before pulling the trigger. The attack on Utoya is the most heartbreaking to watch as it could not get any more real. Paul Greengrass does not shy away from capturing the true horror but he also exhibits the human spirit, which no matter what, Breivik could not break.

Greengrass, despite making the film in English, cast only Norwegian actors which brought more power to the film. It is easily noticeable the passion and desire each actor in the film had, to convincingly reconstruct the mass shooting. Greengrass also fully grasps the political context of Norway and puts their democratic values on full display as an example perhaps some countries should follow. The director also touches upon the inability of the special force to respond to Utoya’s attack immediately. However, soon it will be clear that dealing with three attacks at the same time can catch anyone off-guard, even the most capable person.

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