The Whistleblower tells the true story of Kathryn Bokovac, a police officer from Lincoln, Nebraska who lost custody of her children in a divorce settlement. In search of a new job that would allow her to live closer to her kids and earn a lot of money in a short period of time, she joined the UN Police Task Force run by a British agency called DynCorp (renamed as “Democra” in the movie) in post-war Bosnia in 1999. During her time in Bosnia, she worked as a human rights investigator and discovered that teenage girls were not only smuggled from other countries into Bosnian bars for sex but UN personnel were also involved in the sex trafficking. Once Bokovac started to investigate and report these crimes to her superiors, she was fired. In turn, she let the world know of these awful crimes.
I had never heard of Kathryn Bokavac and these reported UN human trafficking crimes before watching this movie, so The Whistleblower turned out to be one of the most intense and exciting movies that I’ve seen in a while. One would think that director Larysa Kondracki has a whole slew of films in her portfolio, but this was surprisingly her first film. If she continues to make more exciting and well-directed films like The Whistleblower, Kathryn Bigelow better watch out!
Kathryn Bokovac is brilliantly played by Rachel Weisz. She is not only at her most beautiful in this film, her character also exudes great strength and sensitivity. The real Bokovac must have been so flattered to be played by Weisz. Rachel Weisz has been getting increasingly better with each new movie she stars in. I don’t love all her movies, but I’ve been impressed with her in the Mummy films, The Shape of Things, The Fountain and Agora. She has only really headlined two films – the recent Agora and now The Whistleblower – both great films but failed to be box-office successes in the USA. Both films seemed to have been swept under the rug. Almost a conspiracy just like the plot of The Whistleblower, I don’t understand why such exciting and interesting films as The Whistleblower and Agora got ignored in the theaters. It’s hard enough for female stars in Hollywood to headline films all by themselves for an extensive amount of time (Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep, for example), but it’s a real shame that certain female-led movies don’t get more acknowledgment by the press, public, or get released into more theaters. I’ve noticed that when an up-and-coming actress starts to fade out from the public’s eye, she selects some action or horror film to get placed back in the spotlight again (think of Kate Beckinsale or Charlize Theron, for example). An actress like Angelina Jolie knows how to work the system to stay in the spotlight and get great roles – she’s smart to have a consistent pattern of action movie, art-house/drama movie, action movie, art-house/drama movie, etc. As much as I love her intelligent movie choices, Rachel Weisz may have to work the Hollywood system by starring in some action-oriented blockbuster film to avoid being demoted to straight-to-video movies.
With Rachel Weisz headlining The Whistleblower, she is also supported by an international cast of actors who are all exceptional – David Strathairn and Vanessa Redgrave play Bokovac’s colleagues Peter Ward and Madeleine Rees (Watch the Blu-ray extra to see how different the real Rees is from Vanessa Redgrave. You’ll get a kick out of that). Besides a bunch of scary Serbian UN officers and pimps, rounding out the main baddies are Monica Bellucci, David Hewlett, and Liam Cunningham all playing creepy ice-faced UN personnel. I’m a huge fan of Monica Bellucci and I’m aware that she’s not the greatest of actresses, but in this movie she pulls off a seriously impressive and scary performance in her small role.
The level of detail on the 1080p 2.35:1 video is overall excellent, especially during the day or bright scenes. The many dark scenes in this movie don’t pop, but the black levels are acceptable. Images are detailed without signs of any obvious flaws and colors are natural throughout. The video is spotlessly clean and has not one noticeable or distracting problem. Pause any scene with Rachel Weisz and you’ll notice right away how amazing she looks in HD! It’s a great transfer despite some softness and slight murkiness during the dark dungeon scenes.
The DTS-HD 5.1 sound mix does the job well and adds to the intensity of the film. The movie has a lot of talking, but once in a while there are some explosions and car crashes which do sound great and remind us that we do have subwoofers in our living rooms. Surround sounds are mainly used for background sounds of Serbian streets (which were actually filmed in Romania). Ambient sounds did stand out though, especially during dungeon scenes – the sound mix during those scenes gave me the same creepy goose-bump feeling when watching Se7en. English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are also included.
The only extra available on this Blu-ray is a 5-minute clip of interviews with the real Kathryn Bokovac, the real Madeleine Rees, Rachel Weisz, and Larysa Kondracki. I don’t get annoyed when Blu-rays don’t always have extras, but this is the kind of movie that should have more extras. The extras that would have been an educational addition would be the actual footage of Kathy Bolkovac speaking to lawmakers or any other conclusive information about her case. If no one from DynCorp or the UN has been charged with crimes yet, at least let the audience know something about the status of her case!
– Kathy Bolkovac: The Real Whistleblower
The Whistleblower is a disturbing but highly entertaining movie. I was glued to the screen from beginning to end. We watch this film and are reminded that all levels of society are as sexist and sick as ever – from low-class human traffickers that would pimp out their own children all the way to the government and huge corporations that not only ignore these crimes, but also support them. But what can an average person do? Not much…except be respectful to the women you know, support women’s rights, and/or write your congressmen (who will most likely do nothing). Either way, The Whistleblower is still a great movie. Definitely check out this Blu-ray!