22 July is a movie that came out a few days ago on Netflix. It follows the events of the July 22nd attacks in Norway and the impact it had on some of the people. The film is directed by Paul Greengrass and stars Jonas Strand Gravil, Anders Danielsen Lie and more.
In my opinion, the opening 35 minutes of the film is easily the best part. It is extremely intesne and horrifying to watch due to the brutality of it. It was extremely engaging and is probably one of the best sequences in any film this year. Yeah, that’s how good it was. Part of the reason why the opening act was incredible were the performances. Lie gives a chilling performance and Gravil is great in portraying the fear that the teenagers probably felt at the time.
However, after this sequence, the movie doesn’t really know what to do going forward. They have several different focuses and don’t really flesh them out properly. The movie had a lot of side stories and would have probably benefited from putting more emphasis on the Vilijar arc instead of having some pointless scenes with characters who didn’t really add anything significant or impactful to the story. In my opinion, focusing more on Vilijar would have meant the best arc got the justice it deserved. Maybe giving more development to the side characters like the mother and father would have made for a more emotional story.
The runtime is also way longer than it has to be and the pacing really starts to suffer after the opening. The movie feels way longer than two and a half hours and I felt that it ruined the emotional impact of the story. Cutting out the unnecessary scenes probably would have helped and made the movie shorter and more well paced.
One of the arcs in particular that I thought was poorly executed was the terrorist trial arc. In concept, this sounds amazing. Looking into the mind of a terrorist and what motivated him sounds fascinating. Somehow, the filmmaker managed to make it extremely dull and I had nearly no interest in the story line. It just bloated the runtime.
Despite all of the problems I had, there are quite a few emotional and powerful scenes after the first act. I don’t know how accurate the depiction of PTSD was, but it felt extremely heartfelt to me and was one of the strongest aspects of the film. Some of the best scenes that portrayed this were the snowmobile scene in the second act and the gym sequence towards the end. I also thought some of the interactions between him and the female character with the court scene at the end were also great. By the way, that court scene was one of most emotionally impactful for me.
Even though the brother was underused, I did like the one interaction he had with Vilijar where Vilijar was outside the brother’s bedroom door. Yet, the lack of lines the brother has in this scene really frustrated me.
Most of the emotional scenes revolve around Vilijar and that brings me to another big issue that I have. None of the supporting cast is really interesting to me and the characters were not developed enough. As I said earlier, developing these characters could have made a better movie and created a more impactful story. I was quite interested in the girl who has a monologue in the trial and would have liked to see more form her. Vilijar’s brother is also underused in my opinion and not giving him a proper arc was a definite missed opportunity.
22 July had an insane amount of potential due to an incredible opening and some extremely powerful moments. But, it suffers from an unnecessarily long run time, poor pacing, underdeveloped supporting characters and wasted subplots. 22 July gets a C+ from me.