Fergus (Womack) is a hotheaded ex-SAS officer who can't come to terms with the death of his best friend Frankie (Bishop in flashbacks), who was working in Iraq for a private contractor. Determined to get to the truth of what happened on Route Irish, the road from Baghdad airport to the Green Zone, he teams up with Frankie's widow (Lowe) and gets in touch with his old pals in Iraq. And what he discovers is a conspiracy of torture and murder that private companies seem able to get away with.
So far so good, and the film is sharply centred on the human side of the story, letting us vividly see the injustices suffered by innocent Iraqis at the hands of trigger-happy invaders. It's an approach that catches us off guard after more Western-centric war movies, and it forces us to consider who the good guys are. Or if there are any good guys.
The problems start with a series of clunky plot points that strain credibility.
Fergus has always been driven by his rage, but now everyone is screaming at each other while Fergus launches a ruthless vengeance mission against one of Frankie's colleagues (Williams), who's a pretty nasty piece of work himself.
This leaves us with no one we care about, even though the cast adeptly portrays these hyper-emotional people. Womack's fearsome intensity holds the film together, while Lowe is solid in a role that's more complicated role than we expect. But their friendship seems tentative at best, and a brief romantic spark never develops.
In the end the political element of the story is submerged in the carnage. Even the torture theme becomes merely another tool of vengeance in one particular gruelling scene. The script becomes increasingly obvious and heavy-handed, to the point where we're unable to engage with the characters on any level. We might be glad the film has reminded us of the human cost of this messy conflict, but they kind of get lost in the shuffle.
Run time: 109 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 16th March 2011
Distributed by: Diaphana
Production compaines: Sixteen Films, Why Not Productions, Wild Bunch
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Ken Loach
Producer: Rebecca O'Brien
Screenwriter: Paul Laverty
Starring: Mark Womack as Fergus, John Bishop as Frankie, Trevor Williams as Nelson, Geoff Bell as Walker, Jack Fortune as Haynes, Talib Hamafraj as Harim, Jamie Michie as Jamie, Stephen Lord as Stephen, Andrea Lowe as Rachel
Also starring: Paul Laverty
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