The most upsetting thing about Boot Camp is that it’s based on true events. Why is that, you ask? Because if these types of places actually do exist and they get away with what happens in this movie, we have more to worry about than place like Guantanamo Bay.
Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show, Family Guy, Extract) stars in this story about Sophie, a defiant teenage girl who is ripped away from her spoiled lifestyle, drugged, and taken to an island near Fiji where she and hundreds of other teens are held captive. Their parents, tired of the defiance, backtalk, and substance abuse, have relinquished their rights and given them over to a man who believes he can turn their teenager’s behavior around over the course of two years.
The teens on the island are subject to all manner of inhuman abuses that include being chained to a block of cement and nearly drowned by the incoming tide; being kept in a hole while exposed to the elements, and being beaten with sticks while their peers verbally abuse them. This is all in the name of rehabilitation and reform. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Sophie’s boyfriend, Ben (Gregory Edward Smith, Everwood), purposefully gets himself sent to the island to be closer to her. His intentions are soon discovered, but he has a few tricks up his sleeve that give the head of the camp and his minions a run for their money.
Boot Camp has the feel of an R-rated afterschool special that has been joined with a Lord of the Flies-style environment. The very thought that these types of places may actually exist is a scary one.
Despite some moments that come across as rather melodramatic, the film delivers a powerful message of redemption. Will Sophie see the error of her past ways and change? Or will she conform only as a means to get off the island? And what are others in the same predicament as Sophie willing to do to get off the island? The moral and ethical implications of this and other issues are explored throughout the film.
Mila Kunis fans will find her performance riveting since it is much different from her roles as Jackie on That 70’s Show and Meg Griffin on Family Guy. While Kunis has portrayed edgy characters in the past (see American Psycho 2), this performance aims for realism as opposed to heightened comedy or horror.
Boot Camp isn’t for everyone. In fact, this is a film that exposes the truth about a system that has been kept in the dark for decades. So, do these types of boot camps for at-risk teens really exist? In various versions, yes. I have included links to a few of them below: