City Paper is not for tourists
Now that the word “hero” has become so degraded that anybody who nails a three-pointer at the buzzer gets called one, we need a new word for folks like Ed Artis. Since the mid-’90s the Army vet has run Knightsbridge International, a nonprofit that brings food and medicine to impoverished, war-torn regions. In Adrian Belic’s documentary, he’s such an engaging tough talker that his noble efforts never seem dutiful or self-righteous: He’s a proud member of the Knights of Malta, and as he puts it, “knights do good shit.” Beyond the Call captures Artis along with two of his main cohorts, Walt Ratterman and Jim Laws, making deliveries, negotiating with sketchy-seeming suppliers, and generally preaching the virtues of self-sacrifice. It’s all deeply admirable, but not especially interesting viewing. To his credit, Belic (Genghis Blues) doesn’t go in for misery porn, but he largely works with shots of SUVs stuck in the mud, Artis making accounting notes, and the three main Knightsbridge staffers dropping off supplies in Afghanistan and the Philippine island of Basilan in fairly conflict-free circumstances. Despite its globe-trotting sensibility, the film gets no more exciting than Ratterman showing off his archery skills at his home back in the States.