Release date:July 9, 2008
Directors:Tony Gerber, Jesse Moss
The U.S. military has built a billion-dollar simulated Iraq in California's Mojave Desert, complete with hundreds of Iraqi exiles employed to play civilians and insurgents, terrorist suspects, grieving mothers and innocent shopkeepers. Filmmakers Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss take a smart fly-on-the-wall approach to much of the action, as in-training Army recruits enter "Medina Wasl" (one of 13 fake villages in the simulation), trying to quell uprisings and cajole locals for three weeks prior to their deployment to the real Iraq. "Full Battle Rattle" observes Army officers explaining local customs to a confused force, under orders to bring “peace and stability” to a place they know nothing about — and one that appears to be disintegrating before their eyes. The movie could be read as a surreal, hilarious goof on the military if the play-acting failures of the troops didn't look so realistic and if thousands of real lives weren't on the line halfway around the world.