'Sick, Sad' Colin Farrell Becomes the Great White Hope For War-Film Rebound

The only war with a box office record worse than the Iraq conflict is the one that decimated the Balkans in the '90s; the recent Richard Gere/Terrence Howard satire The Hunting Party flailed briefly in theaters on its way to DVD, with only the Owen Wilson/Gene Hackman actioner Behind Enemy Lines barely breaking even back in 2001. Colin Farrell, no bankable factor himself, is reportedly the next Hollywood name to take on the genre — and in case you had any doubt, he takes his role in the upcoming drama Triage very, very seriously:

Farrell first went to the eastern town of Srebrenica where some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed after it fell to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

"I felt sick," Farrell told Reuters after visiting the cemetery for the victims of the massacre, regarded as Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.

"It is hard to describe how obviously the air and the land has been poisoned by the act of killing 8,000 people in the space of a day. But you really do get the sense of the pain and the loss and I am sad, I really am sad."

Yikes. Indeed, genocide is a bit of a downer, so much so that we're surprised to see the extent to which producers and stars continue to test this market. Particularly Farrell, whose middling run of late (Cassandra's Dream, In Bruges, the perennially shelved Pride and Glory) isn't quite the momentum burst likely to get troubled war stories in front of viewers. We know these stories should be told, but they have to be sold as well. Is there a way to do both that avoids the photo-op cynicism attending Triage and gets us looking forward to these projects for a change?