When Saddam Hussein tells his son Uday in this film “I should have killed you the day you were born,” it’s rather powerful. He has just grabbed him by the testicles and was ready to slice him up. Uday’s in a hospital having his stomach pumped after too many pills.
He parties like a frat-boy on speed, and is so insane that Saddam actually appears normal by comparison.
It’s a moment like the hospital scene that you realize – if this were a true story, it would be fascinating. Instead, it’s a very fictional account of real people.
It’s based on the life of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi army lieutenant who had the unfortunate luck of being a former classmate, and lookalike, of Uday Hussein. The “Black Prince” hires him (well, forces him) to be his body double.
This means he’ll have to survive assassination attempts, he’ll have to survive women coming on to him, and he has plastic surgery to look more like him. It’s the same actor playing both parts, and it’s an Oscar caliber performance for Dominic Cooper.
And because the story is based on the real Latif, we’re getting his side. That means he always tried to do the right thing, and had contempt for all the excess of Uday.
Watching the impulsive nature of the Black Prince, as he rapes and tortures for fun, is rather disgusting at times. It’s like Caligula meets Scarface in the Middle East.
Dominic Cooper had a nice supporting role in An Education, and it’s nice to see him in a bigger role. It’s the type of role that would easily nab him an Oscar nomination if this were a better film (it’s the same thing that cost Val Kilmer a nomination when he played Jim Morrison in The Doors movie).
The few political films that came to mind with look-alikes are comedies (Moon Over Parador and Dave). It makes it that much more frustrating that this wasn’t a better balanced picture.
The romance in the movie is silly and unconvincing. That’s just one of a few plot holes and unbelievable aspects of the film.
We all could’ve guessed Udah is a nut job, and the movie just confirms this. At some point, the violence just becomes gratuitous.
The characters are one-dimensional and you leave the theatre frustrated at such an interesting premise and set up that eventually lets you down.
It gets 2 ½ stars out of 5.