Gunner Palace


Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. Illuminating, disturbing, evenhanded.
  2. 100
    At the very least, it's more honest and involved in its portraiture of American soldiers in Iraq than anything TV news of any political persuasion has given us.
  3. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Rousing, provocative film.
  4. 90
    A nerve-jangling work of visual poetry and ironic juxtaposition, and a powerful human story of a group of brave young Americans.
  5. 88
    A riveting and indispensable record of the war in Iraq because it comes from the men who lived it.
  6. 88
    A ground-level documentary, messy and immediate, about the daily life of a combat soldier in Iraq. It is not pro-war or anti-war.
  7. The ironies and contradictions that give the first half a dark humor give way to gravity and respect as soldiers are killed (off camera).
  8. 80
    Sensational viewing.
  9. The resulting film is an unruly, riveting assemblage of anecdotes and impressions. The larger political and military questions about the war in Iraq are kept deliberately in the background, which some viewers may find frustrating.
  10. A striking new documentary that shows the war in a way it's not been seen before: from the ground up.
  11. The film is more of an anthropological essay on the way young Americans relate while they make war, not love, and try to survive in the meantime.
  12. The best glimpse yet of what it's like to be in Iraq.
  13. 75
    In a simple, direct manner, Gunner Palace reminds you that the thousands of faceless, nameless troops in Iraq are still there after you switch off CNN.
  14. 75
    Gets behind the armor and the camouflage to give viewers a clear if brief view of the men and women who fight and die under the American flag every day in Iraq.
  15. Despite the jumpy, ride-along camera work and the ever-present threat of engagement, a certain tedium sets in during the film.
  16. 70
    For the soldiers, it's about living to see the next day and living with the things they see, and Gunner Palace honors their perspective like no other Iraq documentary has to date.
  17. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Put together by Tucker and his co-director/editor wife Petra Epperlein without a hint of artifice, docu offers up its sounds and images bluntly, and they are very much sounds and images worth having as part of the record.
  18. 70
    Floating on the surface of confusion, Gunner Palace has a raw home video quality that's often quite beautiful. Much of the movie is hardly more than an immersion in sights and sounds. Vivid as it is, Gunner Palace is dominated by what isn't shown. It's the human face of Abu Ghraib.
  19. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Defies any expectations you bring to it. There are sights in Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's eye-opening documentary that will confirm and confound both right and left.
  20. Do these soldiers make it? We keep watching and waiting. There's not much more to Gunner Palace than that, but it's no different than the soldiers' lot.
  21. A lack of artful filmmaking doesn't detract from the dramatic impact of this fly-on-the-wall, cinema verite documentary.
  22. Why don't we see this kind of thing on the news every night? Undoubtedly military censorship comes into play, but probably more so it's the prevailing notion that talking-head shoutfests stacked with pundits bring in the ratings, while actual field reporting costs more money.
  23. The film's fragmentary structure, though, is suspect. It says that the soldiers find no real meaning in their combat actions, yet Gunner Palace presents the operations we're seeing in so little context, reducing them to a random hash of ''sensational'' moments, that Tucker at times appears to be exploiting the war to create a didactic canvas of manic military unease.
  24. With so many soldiers interviewed, some only fleetingly, it's impossible to keep track of them all.
  25. Provides an intimate, nonpoliticized, uncensored and totally unappealing look at the lives of U.S. soldiers serving during a grim and uncertain period of insurgency.
  26. 63
    Works purely as a series of complex snapshots of the conflict in Iraq.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 13
  2. Negative: 1 out of 13
  1. MarcR.
    Mar 9, 2005
    It's not a bad movie, but they could have done more with it. I suppose with all the embedded coverage of the war, and after the ABC It's not a bad movie, but they could have done more with it. I suppose with all the embedded coverage of the war, and after the ABC reality series which they pulled off the air after like 3 episodes, this sucker wasn't all that original. However, that being said, it was refreshing to get to know at least a handful of American soldiers. Sure, they rapped, blew off some steam, and had some fun, but I was proud that this film confirmed for everyone that these men and women are solid folks, good people who are put into and extremely difficult situation and making the best of it. If you're hesitating seeing this film because you think it's going to be political - don't. It's not overtly pro war or anti-war. Probably the most interesting segment was an interview with one of the soldiers who described in detail how they don't fear bullets, mortars, RPGs or anything else conventional -- fear stems solely from the IEDs which are hidden in garbage, and "this whole country is covered in garbage." I guess I had assumed that it wouldn't be overly difficult to spot suspicious looking boxes, etc. in the street, but that segment drove home just how precarious any drive becomes. [They should put the hardened prisoners on "Street Sweeping Duty."] The film also brilliantly showed the heroism of the Iraqi informants like "Ray" and "SuperCop" who risk their lives daily by assisting the Army with intelligence about insurgents and terrorists. SuperCop explains that the insurgents have never known a world free of war and they are afraid to live in such a world -- it's merely a fear of the unknown. The Iraqis who assist the coaltion can envision an Iraq that is free of fear and terror - a place where they can hang out with their friends and family, where they can laugh and be together without that collective pit in their stomachs. Once this way of thinking is spread to the Iraqis at large, we'll be able to leave them, knowing their country is in good hands. Full Review »