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4 out of 4 stars

Title
I Declare War
Directed by
Jason Lapeyre, Robert Wilson
Country
Canada

Sharp, funny and edge-of-your-seat chilling, this darkly provocative actioner, starring a startlingly stellar all-kid ensemble cast, turns a neighbourhood woods game of Capture the Flag into a high-stakes round of no-holds-barred jungle warfare – with the rules about to be broken. Parachuting into the midst of a strategically pivotal game, we see crude handmade guns suddenly become real AK-47s, comfortably swung by preteens who rattle off dialogue on par with any decent commando flick. The fantasy-tinged film nails the ferocious intensity of children's games (the imaginary world feels real in the moment) while it plays with cinema conventions (coming-of-age stories, war tales, etc). One legendary leader aims to out-manoeuvre an opponent who has taken his best friend hostage, and there's a woman (make that, girl) in the mix, working her wiles. An after-school special you won't want to miss.

Sept. 9, 4:15 p.m., and Sept. 14, 9:45 p.m., Scotiabank; Sept. 11, 2 p.m., Yonge & Dundas.

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