Ah yes Abu Ghraib...Still a controversial with some people of course and one of the reasons why lots of people are hating on the movie, without even having seen it but let me just tell you that there is absolutely nothing controversial, shocking or offensive about this actual movie.
The movie is doing far too little with anything to ever work out as anything controversial. It's a very safe movie, which both at the same time is a positive and negative thing about it. It means that it's a very shallow movie but it's also one that never forces anything upon you. It's not an over-sentimental, over-apologetic or overly shocking movie and it's also not even a very solid movie with any of the drama and emotions in the first place.
Let me just say that if this was a hyper-realistic and over-sentimental movie, I most likely would have hated on it as well. It's really because the story itself in its core is a pretty weak and still pretty offensive one. It's one of those type of movies in which the main characters acts all shocked and surprised at everything that's going on inside the prison and he tries to help- and change things by approaching and treating the prisoners like ordinary human beings, instead of being a movie about the true horrors and shocking facts of what all transpired inside of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, during the second Gulf war.
But the movie never pretends that it's telling you actual facts, or that it's based on a true story and characters. It also definitely never feels like a very realistic one with any of the characters, settings, emotions and developments, due to its overall very simplistic and safe approach to things. The movie therefor also never offended me. It's basically just like any other fictionalized, low-budget, modern war movie; it's more entertaining than meaningful or deep to watch.
Really, for a movie that's all about torture and mistreating people there's a shockingly little amount of torture in this movie. It's certainly not a very graphic or hard-hitting movie with anything. It adds to the reason why this is a very shallow movie to watch, that plays things safe and isn't telling you anything new. As a matter of fact, it hardly is telling you anything at all with its story and all of its characters remain some disappointingly shallow and underdeveloped ones as well.
And seriously, what is up with Sean Astin? Does he say yes to everything that comes on his path? He keeps popping up in these 'little' and insignificant type of movies lately, usually only as a supporting character, as is the case within this movie as well. With all respect to those movies but he deserves better.
But oh well, back to the movie; As a low-budget, fictionalized, modern war movie, without any action, it's definitely not a terrible one. It's still perfectly watchable, even though it's never a particularly interesting or very effective one with anything. It's a well shot movie that never bores or annoys and it's the type of movie that's still perfect to watch late at night when you are bored and there is truly nothing else on TV.