The Best and Worst Balkan Conflict War Movies

The war movies about the Balkans are few and far between.  Here are the best and the worst of them.

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Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)


The Best!

In Welcome to Sarajevo, Woody Harrelson stars as a combat photojournalist in war-torn Sarajevo. This is a brutal unrelenting film, one of the more violent war films I've ever seen.  The film treats us to a continual cycle of death, destruction, and horrific human behavior.  It would be gratuitous if it wasn't based on real life.  The human conflict is very involving, but unfortunately, the film doesn't offer us anyone to connect with, as the cast of characters rotate in and out of focus.  Still, it's a compelling, addicting film.

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The Whistleblower (2010)


The Best!

Rachel Weiz stars in this real-life story of an American divorcee and police officer who tries to improve her financial situation by taking a paid contract to offer police training in the Balkans under the United Nations flag.  What she discovers is a completely ineffective U.N. mission, rampant corruption, and worst of all, sex trafficking by U.N. personnel.  Weiz struggles to protect the young women being victimized and realizes she may have put herself in danger.  A fascinating (and enraging) story of corruption, crime, and one woman who couldn't let it go.  And it's all a true story!

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In The Land of Blood and Honey (2011)


The Worst!

Angelina Jolie's first directorial attempt is an admirable attempt at subject matter, but one that falls flat.  Moreover, I had the feeling that, as a viewer, I was being subjected to a very superficial description of very complex ethnic issues.  As Serdan Dragojevic, a Serbian filmmaker wrote:

"It's a very bad movie. And having worked in Hollywood and interacted with some if its movie stars, I think I know how this film got made. Being a big star does not always work to your advantage. These people live their sheltered and insular Beverly Hills lives and have very little clue about what's going on 15 miles away in The Valley, let alone half a world away in Bosnia. This film is a very strange attempt at tackling something you're absolutely clueless about; it would be like me writing a story about American suburbia using news reports as the basis. It seems like nobody had enough courage to tell Angelina that during the making of the film."
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Behind Enemy Lines (2001)


The Worst!

Wilson plays a U.S. pilot shot down over Bosnia. The movie tells the story of Wilson's struggle to survive while on the run. This movie is of two minds. On the one hand, it wants to be a thinking man action's picture, the sort that hires against type for its leading role (Wilson is best known for his screwball comedies).  Yet on the other hand, it wants to play into every lazy, stupid action movie trope that Hollywood has ever dealt, in which case, the film would have been better off hiring someone typical, like Steven Seagal.  It doesn't work as an all out action film, or as a thinking man's action film. (Unfortunately, this is the sort of movie where the protagonist can out run a grenade's explosion.)