A group of troubled teens are sent to a rehabilitation program housed in a remote camp. What their parent believing this is a state-of-the-art deluxe instiution in a beautiful natural environment, turns out to be the kids worst nightmare where they are abused and brainwashed. Pushed to the edge, the teens must confront their militant director in order to escape.
What happens when your teen goes astray? Apparently, in the United States, there’s a controversial option open to parents- they get the option of sending their at-risk teen kid away to juvenile detention camps, or tough-love “boot camps” for short. It is the method behind the reform that has been the subject of controversy, so much so that certain states have banned them.
Such is the backdrop of Christian Duguay’s “Boot Camp”, which tries to earn its credibility by stating upfront that it is “based on true events”. The camp in question at the centre of the film is Advanced Serenity Achievement Program (ASAP), hidden on an island somewhere in Fiji. As part of their welcome, new recruits are shackled to cement blocks on the beach and left there overnight.
But that’s nothing compared to what else is in store for these wayward teenagers- their regime includes physical, sexual and emotional torture, all in the name of turning their lives around. Does this actually happen at these boot camps, you ask? Maybe- since it is these abuses that have sparked off much public debate over the existence of these camps. Still, it is one thing to show, and another thing to exploit.
“Boot Camp” unfortunately does the latter. It goes for the easy route by relentlessly showing scenes of teens getting abused and ill-treated in order to get your sympathy, so much so that you begin to doubt the veracity of what you’re seeing. It doesn’t help that the camp commandant, Dr Hall (Peter Stormare), is no more than a caricature of a villain, never once managing to convince the audience how he was even qualified to run a camp like this.
And so what began as a meaningful expose on the abuses behind these boot camps turns into another meaningless exercise in torture porn (albeit for teens). In this respect, “Boot Camp” is slickly packaged entertainment that gets you rooting for the plight of the teens, and then cheering them on as they wreck anarchy on the very place that was supposed to teach them order.
By doing so, “Boot Camp” fails to be any sort of thought-provoking reflection on a subject that still threatens the future of many misguided teens. It may be easily enjoyed, but is also quickly forgotten- just like the performances of its stars, Mila Kunis and Gregory Smith. And that is regrettable, for it could have provoked and inspired but it chose instead to titillate- as it is, “Boot Camp” is a missed opportunity, and a film that could have done better, much better, with a re-boot.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains no extra features.
Unless you want to enjoy the torture scenes in surround, the Dolby 2.0 audio works just fine. Picture could do with a little more work to make it cleaner, especially with the visible grains in the night scenes.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 10 December 2009