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DAY ZERO (2007)

Aaron Feller

"Day Zero" tells the story of three friends, George, a lawyer who's married to Molly, Dixon, a cab driver, and Aaron, a writer. When the draft is re-installed, they get 30 days to prepare for war.

While writer Robert Malkani started working on the script over two years ago, the theme is still very accurate. But "Day Zero" is not a war movie, it's more than anything a film about friendship and relations as George, Dixon and Aaron have to face the truth and they all have to find a way to deal with the emotions that are going on in their lives.

Chris Klein is very convincing and totally believable as George Rifkin. I thought him to be a coward at first but he turned into a very brave person. Jon Bernthal was my revelation in the film. I had never even heard of him before but I thought him to be very refreshing and extremely talented. But Elijah Wood stood out for me and this has nothing to do with me being a fan. Elijah proved once again how talented he really is. His portrayal of Aaron is heartbreaking, funny and convincing. It's fascinating to see him take his character to a very dark place. It just seems so easy for him.

The theme of the film could have easily turned it into an over-serious film. It is, but it also has some very funny scenes mixed with some very emotional scenes. "Day Zero" is supported by great cinematography and a strong soundtrack.

If there was anything I missed, it was character development. While George and Dixon are no-nonsense guys, I found it difficult to understand Aaron's motives.

What I most liked is the fact that the film does not force the answers down your throat. As a European, I haven't really given the subject a lot of thought. But the filmmakers give their viewers the opportunity to make up their own mind, to have their own opinion. Never did I have the feeling that they were forcing their opinion down on me. But it did make me think and that's a very good thing.

**Courtesy - Brenda


I think the only thing more terrifying than continuing the war in Iraq is the idea of the government reinstating the draft in order to wage it. It's bad enough that there are loyal hard working Americans who are willing to voluntarily fight and die for big oil interests and the George W. Bush's of America; but to steal an innocent man's liberty and freedom from him and force him to kill and maim and invade other people's countries without question is so un-American, it's petrifying.

Day Zero is a fantastic film that unfortunately due to its small release a lot of people won't see, a film that I myself almost missed; but it's something that everyone, particularly we twenty something's of the world, should see.

Set at some point in the near future after another terrorist attack has claimed the lives of thousands in Los Angeles, we are still at war and our enemies around the globe are increasing not decreasing. It's here that the film puts us smack dab in the middle of the question, what would happen if suddenly all healthy heterosexual males in this country from ages 18 - 35 were eligible for the draft? It forces us to ask ourselves, not only if I fall in that category how would I react, but also to those of us who don't, what does that make us? Are healthy gay men and women of either sexual orientation somehow less responsible for safe-guarding America?

It would be incredibly easy to tell this story from one point of view or the other. Either it's a pro war film or an anti war film. But what Day Zero brilliantly does is it avoids taking sides by simply stating - we're at war, this is the reality, how do we deal?

Chris Klein, Elijah Wood and Jon Bernthal play three friends in New York City who couldn't be more different from one another if they tried. The only thing that they share is this amazing bond of friendship that keeps pulling them back together. Klein's character George is the lawyer son of a wealthy influential business man, Elijah's Feller is a vagabond writer with seemingly no family and a host of phobias and Bernthal's Dixon is the hard luck case fighter from the streets whose ability to beat the hell out of people is matched only by how fiercely loyal and protective he is of his friends.

When all three simultaneously discover that they've been drafted each deals with it in his own way. They all, however, have to wrestle with and conquer their demons before their 30 days is up and they have to either report for duty, or head for Canada.

The character development that takes place in this short 96 minute piece is really remarkable. Chris Klein in particular turns in what I believe to be the performance of his career. For anyone who still thinks he's just the pretty but dumb jock, this film is proof that he's far deeper and far more talented than anyone thought. Don't get me wrong, he's still gorgeous to look at, but there's much more than meets the eye here.

After the crazy amount of success he enjoyed from those Elf Movies, I'm sure Elijah Wood has no need to be working on anything else, which is why this small budget indie with a truly challenging role must have appealed to him. I was completely weirded and a little creeped out by him by movies end; which is really saying something because normally those baby blues are nothing but cute, in Day Zero cute slowly turns into bizarre and bothered.

I haven't seen much from Jon Bernthal aside from some guest spots on a few of the Law & Orders but he does a solid job here as the guy you most want on your side in a fight, but who doesn't really enjoy his talent for hurting others. If people in the industry do get to see this, I'm sure he'll be popping up on the radar a little more often now.

It seemed as though the film was shot entirely on location here in New York City, which is always a plus in my book. The authenticity of the location permeates the story telling giving it that added credibility necessary when posing these types of questions.

By no means an expensive film to make, Day Zero is an honest movie that asks a lot of its audience, but that also makes good on its intentions to make you think and consider new possibilities.

If you're someone who enjoys the type of movie that actually makes you think and feel something to the point where when it's over you have to talk to someone about it, then skip the latest $100 million movie at the multiplex and go see this instead.


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