Director: Enzo Zelocchi I Runtime: 19 min I Country: Italy
A dazzling action thriller with a deeply resonating message about the futility of war
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has been a topic of much interest, debate and analysis from newsrooms to dinner tables in the post COVID world. An ongoing David vs Goliath clash that shook the world and birthed countless stories of horror, humanity and valour. Storytellers around the globe are now digging up these tales and trying to find meaning in the rubble of the aftermath of this war through various art forms. No War by well known Italian-American filmmaker Enzo Zelocchi is one such attempt and it largely succeeds at what it sets out to do.
No War begins unexpectedly with a bit of divine intervention. John, a CIA contractor has a vision of a little girl in peril right before he is about to embark on a mission to Ukraine. Till this point, one might mistake No War as one of those slow burn, ponderous films that spiral into philosophical self absorption. It is then that the film explodes into a terrific crescendo of mayhem and takes you on an exhilarating ride.
Director Enzo Zelocchi believes in the filmmaking philosophy of 'show, don't tell'. Throughout its nearly 20 minutes of runtime, there is not one dull moment in No War. The pacing is excellent with intelligent use of stock footage blended with some well shot, truly thrilling action sequences and creative production design. The chaos of war is effectively captured on screen as a backdrop to tell a deeply human story. The film never gets too political or loses track of its inherent intent to put the emotional stakes firmly in the forefront.
Enzo Zelocchi dons many hats in the making of this film. Along with producing, writing and directing, he also acts as the main lead. No easy feat considering the obvious production challenges that one encounters while trying to make a film of such scale on a minimal budget but Enzo delivers with flying colors. On screen, his performance is sincere and impactful with him deftly balancing emotional scenes and some truly impressive stunt work with equal dexterity. His decision to cast Emilia Nimak, a real-life Ukrainian refugee as the girl in peril also pays off well and lends an additional layer of gravitas to Emilia's already effective innocent and heartwarming performance.
Special mention must also be made of Michele Ballarini who doubles as the editor and cinematographer of the film. The editing and is top-notch and the cinematography barring a few minor hiccups with green-screen blending and some overexposed shots is dynamic and creative. A shot of John in the cockpit of a fighter jet is reminiscent of Top Gun and is truly impressive considering the budget of the film.
All in all, No War is a topical and engaging film that leaves one with a emotional gut punch post a thrilling ride. The film is currently playing in select film festivals worldwide.