Army of God
A terror attack unfolds in New York City.
Today’s film is the 2016 short action/thriller Army of God written and directed by Tom Wiseman Jr. Starring Justin Ahdoot, Danny Boushebel, Logan Riley Bruner and Nick Vennekotter.
Army of God tells the tale of a deplorable terrorist attack taking place in New York City. It opens with a scene of a Muslim man praying to god while another is seen playing Call of Duty with his virtual headset. At the table the elder Aadil (Danny Boushebel) informs the younger man Aaban (Justin Ahdoot) that they should leave early, while the dramatic music plays Aaban states that he is ready. Shortly afterward we see men loading a small car with heavy assault weapons with military sights and gear and donning skull masks. The two men using tactical maneuvers head down the street and are confronted by a police officer who they shoot dead on the spot. Things take an unexpected turn however when the men reach their target of the school and your assumptions are turned upside down with the surprise ending.
Even since before the terrible attacks on September 11 there have been a plethora of terrorist films depicting Muslims as the villains that it has become a tired trope in the film industry. So naturally when I saw the concept for Army of God I just had to roll my eyes figuring it would be another gratuitous exploitation of fear for cheap thrills, I couldn’t have been more wrong. This film takes the expectations of the viewer and twists them around showing you that fanaticism of any kind is truly what makes a person a terrorist and it is down with both taste and class. Director Tom Wiseman uses the subject matter carefully to bring not only a good action film to the viewer but also a thought provoking one that may open the eyes of some of the most fearful of our society. Even though the film is a mere five minutes the story delivered is outstanding and it is executed wonderfully by the young and up coming stars of the film.
Almost every actor in Army of God has already had a good deal of TV appearances as minor characters in some hit series, this is clearly evident by the powerful performances delivered by most of the cast. While there is limited dialog between them the father and son of Aadil and Aaban really come across as a family who care deeply for one another. This is mostly in their bearings as they have some of the most expressive eyes and body language I have seen in a short film, this is a rare talent that is essential when you have limited dialog in a film and these two pull it off perfectly. If I had one issue with the acting side of things it would have to be from the performance of Nick Vennekotter who plays Chris. His lines come off strained and forced almost like he was trying to hard to bring a bit of drama to his character but it just falls flat for me and takes an otherwise well thought out character and marrs it ever so slightly. That said however it isn’t a major issue and his story line is still top notch and essential to the film.
The production value of this little short film is truly impressive. The prop guns themselves look truly breath taking and you can tell a lot of work and detail went into their making. There have been plenty of independent films that manage to bring guns into their movies that just look comically fake and rubbery but the rifles used in Army of God seriously look like props from a big budget Hollywood film. What is even better about this is the fact that the two men in the masks carry them in a proper fashion and even react to the recoil that a fully automatic assault rifle would have. I don’t know how many times in practically every film that they fail to do the little details right when either firing or carrying a gun that it makes you just want to cringe but it is obvious the director did some research on how these things actually operate and it adds a touch of realism to the film that most people will appreciate.
The cinematography of Army of God is professionally handled. The camera work is handled skillfully and there is no shaky cam effects even when the characters are running which is something I truly find refreshing, I loathe the shaky cam effect specially in a action film. The scenes are shot to bring maximum tension to each action sequence and are cut together beautifully. The picture quality is stunning at all times and perfectly clear, never once dipping into the unwatchable darkness or becoming to smokey as happens in several action films.
The Audio work of the film also is masterfully done. The voices of the characters are loud, clear and perfectly audible at all times. There is no background static or other technical goofs that some feature length independent films suffer from and it is clear that the company Hayden 5 Media takes it’s job seriously, not surprising as they have a long list of works under their belts. The musical score of the film really helps heighten the tension of this action thriller in a perfect way. It builds the expectations to the point that it is almost palpable and is finally released in the climax of the film in a really satisfying way.
In closing I have to say I really enjoyed Army of God. It took my preconceived notion of what the film was and turned it on it’s head in a truly satisfying way. I have seen big blockbuster films fail to live up to what this short five minute film manages to convey in a fraction of the time. It is beautifully shot and skillfully acted and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the action genre.