The illicit sex-trafficking actions of NATO peacekeepers -- both privatized and not -- is the subject of this incendiary film that falls prey to predictable dramatic conventions. It comes as no surprise that "The Whistleblower" is based on actual events. Financial opportunity in '90s era postwar Bosnia entices Lincoln, Nebraska police officer Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) to go there on a one-year assignment that pays $100,000. Kathryn hopes to finance moving nearer to her displaced daughter, whose father won custody of the girl. Insufficient backstory is provided about the reasons Kathryn lost the custody battle, save for an allusion to police work taking priority over her parental duties.
On the ground in Sarajevo, Kathryn gets a crash course in the way local justice favors male oppression over its female populace. Sarajevo bars serve a multitude of purposes, not the least of which is supplying a steady stream of nubile Eastern European sex slaves for locals and NATO agents alike to feast on with reckless abandon. Damning photographic evidence reveals to Kathryn the complicity of her diplomatically-immune co-workers in the area's rampant sex trafficking trade. As she investigates further, Kathryn discovers the greater extent of NATO/U.N./United States Government involvement in the trafficking of underage girls into Bosnia where they work as sex slaves to by back a freedom that will never be granted.
The movie goes astray in attempting to personalize the story of its female victims. Ukrainian teen Raya takes the brunt of a torture scene that contributes more as a planted piece of exploitation cinema than it does in moving the story toward an emotionally grounded place for the audience. Debut co-writer/director Larysa Kondracki is ill-equipped to handle the story's most delicate and important aspect. You get the sense that had she worked with a more experienced script collaborator than newcomer Eilis Kirwan, Kondracki might have been able to craft the film into the call-to-arms she aspires to create.
Rated R. 105 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
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