It's obvious that I'm going to compare Shooting Dogs with Hotel Rwanda, which I watched a wee while back. Much of the background info is obviously the same, but the setting is new: this time we're in a technical college rather than a hotel, and the heroes of the hour are a Catholic priest and his young protegé.
Immediately after watching it, I felt that it wasn't as strong as that other film. For example, I hated the young male lead. Hated, hated, hated. Maybe it's a class thing, but he just came across as an annoying wimpy ponce, which, granted, the script kind of implied he was, when his character says something like: "I grew up with everything, so I came here to give something back. Sometimes I give myself a pat on the shoulder and say, 'You're starring in your own Oxfam ad'." Indeed, he realizes what a terrible cliché he is. Still, it didn't stop me from finding him annoying as fuck.
And John Hurt as the priest. I don't know... I just don't get priests. He just came across as a deluded, crazy old fool.
Of course, all of this can't take away from the horrific situation that people like this were living through. But at the end of the day, most of them walked away back to their safe European homes and left the locals to be machete'd to death. Nice. This period in such recent history should be a huge blot on the UN's conscience. But I fear it is merely indicative of what a shitty, toothless waste of space it really is.
On the plus side, this film at least didn't have the happy Hollywood ending that Hotel Rwanda had (I'm talking within the setting of the film, rather than of the war itself, obviously), and I can't help thinking how much better this film might have been if made by the team behind that other movie and with different actors. (Although even this film had to have a tacked-on "five years later" happy coda.)
Bottom line: Good horrible story, unappealing actors, annoying epilogue. 62 out of 100