A father who is overly demanding, too much power, a drug habit, and the money to buy anything you want according to Lee Tamahori’s (Die Another Day, Molholland Falls) equals a crazed, degenerate person.
In Iraq, Saddam Hussein was in power and his son Uday (Dominic Cooper – Mama Mia, Captain America: The First Avenger) was running amuck. Brought to Baghdad Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) meets his old schoolmate. He finds out the plan is to make him Uday’s double due to their physical similarities. Not really wanting to do this, as he is in the army, he realizes that he has no choice as Uday threatens the lives of his family members.
Up close he gets to see firsthand the depraved and violent life that Uday leads. Whatever Uday wants, be it expensive cars, clothes or even to have sex with schoolgirls, Uday gets. Latif can barely stomach it, but really has no choice and has to quickly figure out who he can trust and who he must avoid.
This was a story I did not know anything about and it was totally engrossing. The shear violence and excess of this man was unbelievable. If it wasn’t a true story I wouldn’t believe it, if you know what I mean. His temper and belief that he could just take whatever he wanted be it a woman (or girl) or a life is scary. And really there is no one who can stop him. His father is busy running the country, so Uday does as he pleases.
Obviously this is not an historical film. Though it is based on a book about his experiences written by Latif Yahia there has been some liberties taken for movie/dramatic purposes. Baghdad was not exactly like that in the 1980s, but it was not totally different either.
The politics of the Saddam Hussein reign in Iraq are pretty much kept out of the film. There is really no justifications made for the overthrow of Saddam’s regime by the U.S. It is not about his regime rather a criticism of all dictatorships. The side effects of ultimate power are shown to be quite scary.
Dominic Cooper is a revelation in the double role. He handles the extremes very well. He is believable as the lunatic and equally good as the intelligent and morally sound Latif. Each man is given their own voice and mannerisms to keep them separate in the viewers’ minds. Based on his previous movie roles I would never have thought it was possible for him to turn in a dual performance that is this strong.