Backstabbing For Beginners – Blu-ray Review

Backstabbing for Beginners is a 2017 political thriller film that was co-written and directed by Per Fly, and is based on the memoirs of Michael Soussan, with the same name. It follows the real life corruption scandal in the UN Oil-for-Food Program, and stars Theo James and Ben Kingsley.

The Oil-for-Food program was started in 1996 by The UN Security Council, allowing Iraq to sell enough oil to pay for food and other necessities for its population, which was suffering under strict UN sanctions that were imposed after the first Gulf War. However, Saddam Hussein had exploited the program, earning some $1.7 billion through a variety of kickbacks and surcharges, and approximately $10.9 billion through illegal oil smuggling, according to a 2004 Central Intelligence Agency investigation. Wide-scale mismanagement and unethical conduct on the part of some United Nations employees also plagued the program, according to the UN Independent Inquiry Committee.

Josh Hutcherson was originally set to star in the movie, but ended up dropping out and was replaced by Theo James. Filming for Backstabbing for Beginners started in March 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco while other parts of the filming process took place in Copenhagen in April, 2016.

The Film Itself (5/5):

I went into watching Backstabbing for Beginners without any kind of knowledge except of the overall premise that’s published on IMDB.  Kind of hesitant considering that it’s a political thriller, I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect.  That said, this film is one that requires that you pay attention to every minor detail as it moves along; because, if you miss even the slightest thing, you’re going to be left with some pretty bothersome and unanswered questions.  Considering that I was in the middle school era of my youth when these events were going on, I personally found the events of this film to be interesting and that I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the television.

Picture Quality (5/5):

The visual presentation that the Blu-ray release of Backstabbing for Beginners offered was one that I found to be extremely well done.  Not only do we get the various attributes of a 1080p release that we often seek in quality, but we’re also given a variety of camera angels and placement that really does a great job at focusing on the visual elements of the scandal as they were going on.  One particular part of the film that stood out with me was the focus on the facial expressions of the cast as things were about to get real and that the scandal was going to ultimately be uncovered.

Audio Quality (5/5):

Packaged with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track, Backstabbing for Beginners offers a really, really nice immersive experience.  I do say that loosely because the film that, regardless of it being a thriller, doesn’t call for the inclusion of the surround channels at all.  The majority of the film focuses pretty heavily on its dialogue and the events as they unfold within.  The dialogue was clean, clear, and everybody who spoke was able to be heard and understood without having to adjust the volume levels at all.

The Packaging (2/5):

Backstabbing for Beginners comes packaged in your standard single-disc Blu-ray amaray case.  Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the film; the disc featuring absolutely no artwork that’s related to the film at all and only bears the standard release text and considerably generic blue background.  There are no DVD copies of the film included with this release; but, there is a digital copy redemption pamphlet that’s been included for the available streaming options.  There is also a slipcover that’s been included that features the same piece of artwork that’s made available on the case art.


Special Features (2/5):

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray release of Backstabbing for Beginners is pretty minimal in terms of special features.  However, the feature that has been provided does offer a really nice look into some of the factual events that occurred during this particular scandal.  Included with this release is:

  • The Truth Behind Backstabbing For Beginners

Technical Specs:


Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1


English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


English SDH, Spanish


Original Film: 108 minutes

Final Thoughts:

Backstabbing for Beginners was a movie that I honestly did not expect to enjoy as I watched it.  Being that I’m not a big fan of political items personally, I found this film to be not only enjoyable, but slightly educational on the events that occurred during this scandal.  The presentation of the story was extremely well done, and has actually prompted me to do a little more reading into the events that happened during the mid-to-late ’90s.  The visual and audible presentation of this release was really well done and perfectly portrayed everything that they had intended on portraying.  The special features, while there aren’t many of them, offers a small look into the real-life events that happened.  If you’re considering checking this film out for your collection, I would absolutely recommend giving it a shot!  Backstabbing for Beginners will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning on Tuesday April 24, 2018.

Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.