*NEW* DUNKIRK REVIEW *NEW*

The greatest war film ever made?

Not even close. BUT still a bloody good watch.

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

Did hype hinder on Nolan’s latest endeavour? Isn’t that always the case, I hear you say? Scandalous!

The opening act had me on tenterhooks. It was tense, exhilarating and Hans Zimmer’s score. That score!

I loved how the lesser known faces took centre stage. Fionn Whitehead was superb as the exhausted Tommy. Desperate to get home. Evading gun fire and fighting for a spot at the port.

The crazy planning behind the withdrawal strategy was shocking. Sending only one ship at a time with a goal of securing a realistic number of men; “We need our army back!”

As much as you understood Commander Bolton’s frustration, Kenneth Branagh literally stood on a pier looking across at the cliffs of Dover. Really? He looked dashing doing it BUT was that it?

It was still daunting watching the troops wait in fear as the German forces knew they had the upper hand. The planes creeping in the clouds. The Jaws of the sky line. Waiting to strike. Picking off their prey.

The dread. Bombs flying, torpedoes slithering across the waves. Mental. I couldn’t imagine what I would do in a situation like that.

Nolan captured the claustrophobia of it all perfectly from the confined Spitfires to the overcrowded boats. Speechless.

I say lesser known, in the context of film, Harry Styles . . . Well, I can’t believe I’m saying this.

He was very good in the role. At first, I thought; “Oh God. Why is he in this? Gratuitous cameo, I see”. BUT the popstar actually had to do some acting. And he didn’t do bad at all.

It was the middle act where I felt my attention wading. The tension left to cook on the back burner. That score, that score!

Whether it was the cinema speaker system, it soon went right through me. Pounding against my head. It was almost comical. Seriously, I couldn’t hear what the characters were saying.

It felt like one of the soldiers was following the gang about with a giant drum! Come on, now. There was only so much the soundtrack could do to make sitting in the sand and staring into space tense and brooding.

Of course, Dunkirk couldn’t completely conform to a mainstream narrative. It wouldn’t be a Nolan movie otherwise.

His renowned fragmented time frame left me a little confused. The penny should have dropped from the beginning. Each sequence titled: “The Mole: One Week, The Air: One Hour and The Sea: One Day”.

In a nutshell, we followed the various troops as they endured a week on the beaches, an hour in the air and a day at sea.

At first, the flicking back and forth was a little disjointed and baffling. Especially when we encountered a shell-shocked Cillian Murphy in one scene, then a cool and composed one in the next frame.

It should have dawned on me when one scene was set in the day and the other in the night. Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography was outstanding.

Apart from that little niggle, the time frame worked well. Especially during the finale as each location came to their thrilling conclusion.

Tom Hardy’s story line was riveting once it going. And wasn’t it nice of Nolan to make him wear yet another mask. Thankfully I could understand him this time.

All the fuel gauge and co-ordinates talk was a little mind numbing for me. BUT once the pilot encountered the enemy, I was transfixed.

Mark Rylance was brilliant in the minute role of Mr Dawson. A civilian who answered the call of duty to help bring our boys home.

The toll of war encapsulated in the traumatized and “appropriately titled” Shivering Solider (Cillian Murphy).

From all the endless praise and hype, I expected something along the lines of Saving Private Ryan (My favourite war film). I know it’s tough to compare war stories and events BUT Dunkirk did stumble with the pacing.

However, the final act was where this movie really won me over and brought it home. Heart breaking and uplifting in the same moment as the defeated soldiers returned home. Fearing they would be spat on and branded cowards for their failure.

The overwhelming support and unity as everyone pitched in was a sight to behold. Something that seems to be missing in these dark times. A polite reminder with Churchill’s iconic speech.

A little over-hyped BUT still one of the better ones.

3.5/5

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*NEW* KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD REVIEW *NEW*

I don’t know what was worse; David Beckham’s cameo or the movie altogether.

Thy verdict is in and its all apples and pears, san.

Robbed of his birthright, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

The opening 20 minutes was better than I thought with Eric Bana (Troy) bossin’ it as Uther Pendragon. The murky Sherlock Holmes style backdrop may have put a dampener on things but there was action, sword fights and creatures with enough cheese to keep things entertaining.

Ritchie regular Jude Law did his best as the slimy Vortigern. BUT he spent the majority of the film sulking, pouting and pulling faces. His dialogue was bland bar one exchange with a tortured prisoner that delivered an unexpected ear gag.

What annoyed me the most was that Ritchie and co skimmed through the origin build up. Flash forwarding Arthur’s upbringing in a brothel in a quick montage with Charlie Hunnam screaming and pounding on his well toned abs.

I wouldn’t have minded the build up as we might have had better connections with Arthur’s band of cockney geezers. I might have actually cared about them.

By the 30 minute marker, it felt like Ritchie had copped out and tried to work his Lock, Stock magic on the thing. An interrogation sequence with the King’s Guard tried to deliver that quick witted humour BUT it just didn’t work.

“Which Mick? Flat Nose Mick, East End Mick or Chinese Mick?” Really? Taking the mick, more like. I preferred the darker Game of Thrones undertone.

I know this wasn’t going to win plaudits for groundbreaking cinema. It was a blockbuster retelling the legend of Arthur BUT it was a bit of a hot mess.

Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) just about pulled off the charm offensive as Arthur BUT he came off as such a cocky tool.

I could understand his initial behaviour (at first) BUT he didn’t get any better and grew considerably more childish as the agonizing pace fumbled along.

The tone was was all over the gaff. Silly and laughable one second and relentlessly dark and brooding, the next. Failing to work on any level.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There were chunks that were highly watchable and there was fun to be had . . . in places. I loved the street chase sequence with the Rock ‘n’ Rolla style handicam perspective.

Some of the exchanges delivered the odd quip and drew a smile. BUT not as much as Golden Balls’ squeaky Sarge. His voice and laughable dialogue did nothing for him. Eric Cantona may have been bitten by the acting bug. BUT not everyone can make that transition. Sorry, Becks.

The female roles were terrible. I don’t know who Katie McGrath (Jurassic World) has upset in Hollywood BUT she always plays characters that never last. Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinkers) was weak. Anyone could have played her. If they needed her character altogether.

Astrid Berges-Frisby (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) was dreadful as The Mage. Her deadpan delivery and pasty faced complexion did nothing for the role. There was zero chemistry between her and Hunnam. The “friendly” banter was so awkward to watch. I was screaming for Merlin.

It didn’t help that the story (for all its “re-working”) went through the motions. The majority of the supporting cast were highly unmemorable.

NOT even Game of Thrones’ Little Finger (Aiden Gillen) could save the day. Utopia’s Neil Maskell was the only “knight” who made an impression.

The film picked up by the 75th minute marker and delivered an entertaining 30 minutes BUT I could still feel my eyes wandering to my phone as we waited for the (rushed) finale.

The mixed special effects delivered impressive visuals and disorienting mayhem. Especially when Arthur finally got to use Excalibur in all its horrifically CGI ‘d glory. Blasting knights left, right and centre in a horrendously dusky haze of carnage.

Arthur and Vortigen’s fight was disappointing after all the build up and endless dreams/flashbacks revisiting Arthur’s past.

Frustrating doesn’t come close. Ritchie kept skimming through the good bits and leaving us with the chaff. The Dark Island training montage had giant creatures; bats, snakes and god knows what else. Felt like an excerpt from a different movie. Why couldn’t we have more of that?

Watchable guff BUT nothing to shout home about. I actually preferred the Clive Owen re-working instead.

2.5/5

*NEW* T2 TRAINSPOTTING REVIEW *NEW*

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Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a sequel that is actually good. Choose this film.

After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

It was always going to be tough to top such an iconic film. BUT if anyone was going to take it on, it could only be Danny Boyle.

21 years?! 21 years for a sequel that no one really asked for or wanted. BUT come on. How many of you were buzzing when those teaser/trailers hit the big screen with Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life blaring in all its glory?!

As soon as the hypnotic bassy beat of High Contrast’s Shotgun Mouthwash blared through the speakers, I cracked a grin. I knew what I was getting in for.

I was a huge fan of the film BUT have yet to read the Irvine Welch novels. Although I’ve been told they are not the most accessible of novels. A perfect example demonstrated with Spud’s “memoirs” as the lads ripped him for his indecipherable drivel. The bigger joke being that they were actual extracts from Welch’s books.

Considering the massive time gap, the cast hadn’t really changed. A perfect contradiction. Everything had changed BUT it was all still the same.

I couldn’t fault any of the lads. Bremner was spot on as Spud. His random stories delivering some cracking one liners. McGregor was superb. Miller nailed it. BUT there was one man who ran the show. And that man was Ol’ Begbie himself, Robert Carlyle.

He chewed up every scene he was in. A bi-polar bad ass. Bringing nail biting tension and bittersweet humour by the bucket loads. The man you loved to hate. A ticking time bomb.

The first act was just as mad and frenetic as the original. And I have to admit, I was beaming from ear to ear. All the little nods. The soundtrack was spot on. Mixing new with the old. Boyle teasing every scene with a drop of Iggy or a riff of Underworld. Perfect.

The excitement as the gang united for one more drug fuelled mind f**k of a reunion.

However, it wasn’t going to be all hugs and kisses now. Let’s not forget that Renton ran off to Amsterdam with all the drug money. Begbie vowing to kill him if ever their paths would meet again.

It was funny watching the mixed reactions as Renton returned BUT it was also quite hard hitting as well. Especially with Spud as he tried to get clean after years of being a junkie.

Sick Boy was still up to the same old hustle. Extorting rich businessmen in sleazy hotels and Begbie . . . Well, he broke out of prison.

I was in stitches watching Begbie trying to educate Begbie Jr with the ways of his trade. Especially when the poor boy would rather focus on his degree in Hotel Management than tea leaf a 50 inch flat screen.

The middle act did test me as we waited for Renton’s inevitable reunion with Begbie. Wondering if Sick Boy would screw him over. However, once the pair inevitably met, it was gritty, enthralling and funny.

Seriously when the pair realised they were in the cubicles next to each other, it was like something out of a Marx Brothers sketch. I will say no more.

It really came full circle as the lads re-evaluated their lives and remembered the glory days. The retreads through pivotal scenes were enjoyable as it recapped for some of the less avid Trainspotting fans particular plot points.

There was even a revelation that I never picked up on from the original. BUT after a while, it got too repetitive and took the attention away from the ongoing story line. I was starting to feel like I was watching the first one all over again.

BUT Renton and Sick Boy’s little con was entertaining enough. Infiltrating a Protestant pub to steal bank cards. Their ruse nearly discovered until the pair had to pull one hell of a distraction. Trust Boyle to get McGregor singing. And what a song! THERE ARE NO CATHOLICS LEFT!

For most of the film, I was pleasantly surprised BUT that’s not to say that it was perfect.

Anjela Nedyalkova’s turn as Veronika was a mixed bag for me. She came off as an unsuspecting femme fatale that got in the way. A mere plot device to spurn the fractious relationship between Sick Boy and Renton while helping Spud focus his rehabilitation on something more productive. 

I didn’t want to spoil too much about who pops up and what BUT Shirley Henderson was completely wasted as Gail. A mere passing cameo. Shame.

The pace was a killer and it really dragged to that finale. BUT once it kicked off, it was tense, unsettling and delivered a fitting swansong that ticked all the boxes.

A gritty visceral emotional rollercoaster ride that perfectly tackled friendship, loss, nostalgia. A bloody good watch from a reunion I didn’t expect. For a sequel I never thought would happen.

CHOOSE A FILM. CHOOSE ONE THAT WILL ENTERTAIN. CHOOSE ONE THAT IS (ALMOST) WORTH THE HYPE. CHOOSE THIS.

3.5/5

Please enjoy this High Contrast song and suffer the infectious beat that has been in my head for days.

 

 

*NEW* BROTHERHOOD REVIEW *NEW*

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#TheEnd #ShouldClarkeHaveBovvered?

With Sam (Noel Clarke) facing up to the new world, he realizes it also comes with new problems and new challenges. Ones that will require old friends to help him survive new dangers.

From the moment the Grime music blared through the speakers and Fekky’s track Gossip ft. Giggs was booming around the living room, I was sure that this wasn’t going to be my cup of tea.

My brother and cousin chucked it on. Challenging my film critic title to assess Clarke’s latest foray into the East London underbelly.

I’ll own up and admit that I haven’t even seen the other two films (Kidulthood and Adulthood) BUT as the events unfolded and the story got going, I actually didn’t mind it.

A surprisingly watchable and entertaining (if predictable) gritty Brit gangster flick.

I didn’t even need to watch the other two to grasp what was going on. It might fill in gaps and deliver little nods for fans of the trilogy BUT the back stories were quite easy to piece together. PLUS it helped that Clarke threw in a quick flashback here and there.

Clarke was very good as Sam. The man desperate to make things right. Only for his past misgivings to punish the ones who are close to him yet again.

He was an interesting protagonist that made you feel just as conflicted as himself. Cheering as he tried to turn his life around and then yelling at the idiot for making the same mistakes.

I had to laugh at how easily he fell for the alluring Janette (Tonia Sotiropoulou). A femme fatale if ever there was one. Like watching a car crash. She really has a strange way of washing a shirt (People who have seen it will know what I’m talking about).

Inevitably, it wasn’t long before Sam was thrown into trouble. Jason Maza (Welcome to the Punch) and Leeshon Alexander were brilliant as the head honchos Daley and HUGS.

The Essex duo could have easily come off as really bad stereotypes BUT they mastered the balance perfectly and were highly unpleasant villains.

You could feel yourself getting riled up at Daley’s cockiness and HUGS’ slimy demeanour as they tore Sam’s world to pieces.

BUT it was Henry (Arnold Oceng – The Good Lie) who stole the show for me. The reluctant friend roped into helping Sam during his hour of need.

Saving him from a good kicking by a group of thugs with nothing more than a TN cap and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy under his coat.

There was a lot more humour in this than I expected with Oceng delivering every time. Mocking up a fake argument with a traffic warden to evade the suspicions of his wife. Brilliant!

BUT Oceng wasn’t just the comic relief. Henry’s confrontation with Yardz (Stormzy) was funny and heartbreaking at the same time. Prepared to face his fate and put everything on the line.

I was actually surprised at how good Stormzy’s cameo was. Not every music artist can deliver on the big screen. I mean I could write a list. We all could.

David Ajala left little to be desired as Detective Desmond ‘BUDS’ Lynch. I expected more from the Starred Up actor. Finally getting a meatier role. Only to be nothing more than a stocky copper.

The lines were terrible and his delivery didn’t make things any better. Especially when BUDS vowed justice against Daley. Laughable.

And that was part of the problem. For every good sequence, we had several poor ones. The plot was predictable. The middle act spluttered along which killed the pace.

Olivia Chenery’s (Penny Dreadful) subplot felt tacked on and wasn’t explored at all. Her character Sariya’s revenge mission was completely overshadowed by Sam’s melodrama that it felt unnecessary.

Sam’s reunion with an old foe should have been a tense affair. Thankfully, the frantic finale made up for the cliched exchanges and silly dialogue.

The quick-cut punch ups were fast and furious (Even if it was all a little hokey). However, despite all my nitpicking, I was pleased with the ending. It ticked all the boxes and wrapped everything up perfectly.

Clarke delivered a flawed BUT entertaining flick that was able to deliver some clever social commentary and cracking one liners; “Did you just say blud? What year you living in?”

It did the job, killed the time and was better than I expected.

3/5 (Just)

*NEW* FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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Is my love for the Harry Potter franchise wingardium levi-over? There’s only one way to find out.

The short answer, not one bit.

Here we join the adventures of writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

A fun riveting special effects extravaganza that compliments its predecessors BUT tops them? Not quite.

I’ll own up. I’m a fan of the books. A collection that played a huge part in my childhood. The movies on the other hand were a mixed bag. I won’t open that can of worms BUT to cut a long story short; I actually preferred the earlier efforts as they stayed more faithful in their adaptation. The less we say about the Deathly Hallows the better. Moving on . . .

I always loved the little extracts that HP would read about Newt Scamander’s fantastic beasts. Breaking up the main story line and adding to the ever expanding mythology created by the talented J.K. Rowling.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that HP spin-offs would rear their ugly heads after the unanimous success of the box office franchise and the recent Cursed Child craze.

BUT if they can keep this high level of energy, fun and creativity then I’m happy to keep watching. I felt a little more relieved when I discovered Rowling was penning the screenplay. I mean who better, right?

As soon as the credits rolled and that infamous twinkly John Williams score began, I couldn’t resist a little grin.

You couldn’t have picked a better actor than the Oscar winning Eddie Redmayne. He was perfect. I was a little weary about his interpretation at first. I was worried that Newt was going to come across a little simple. Especially how he mumbled out of the side of his mouth.

“We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They’re currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet; humans”.

However once you got used to Newt’s manner and we delved a little more into his past, you soon realised this timid and socially awkward wizard was more in tune with his creatures in his TARDIS-esque suitcase than the Muggle world.

The special effects were fantastic (I know. Original). The 3D is definitely worth an investment with coins, creatures and God knows what else flying out of the screen at ya.

The creatures were excellent. The new additions varied from a jewellery pinching platypus (‘Niffler’), an invisible monkey (‘Demiguise’) to a bizarre looking rhino on heat.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the man (who won an Oscar for depicting one of the world’s greatest minds) flouncing about the place and making weird mating calls.

“Hey! Mr. English Guy! I think your egg is hatched”

egg

Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) was great as Kowalski. The Muggle unsuspectingly roped into the chaos. He stole the show with his one liners and puzzled expressions.

The thought of a prequel should have incensed the fan boy in me BUT setting it back in 1920s New York allowed Rowling to explore other aspects of the very wizarding universe she created. The jazz bar with gangster house elves and shots of Gigglewater being a particular highlight.

I loved the culture clash between the Brits and the Yanks. It was a nice touch. Right down to the slang and abbreviations. Muggle/No-Maj. Wizarding Senate/The Ministry of Magic.

It was fun and entertaining enough with Scamander and his rag tag team of misfits desperately trying to capture all the beasts. BUT it wasn’t all perfect.

Colin Farrell played the sinister Graves brilliantly. BUT there wasn’t enough of him.

I felt when the film deviated from Scamander, I lost interest. The story got bogged down too much with Ezra Miller’s (The Flash) Credence Barebone and the religious cult. Samantha Morton (Minority Report) played the abusive leader well. BUT it didn’t really go in the direction I expected.

The dark angle had potential and introduced a new menace with the infamous Grindelwald. Hardcore HP fans will already be familiar with that name. For others, the reference might be missed. And to be honest, the whole thing felt like another Voldemort (Sorry, you-know-who) retread.

The mystery Obscura (a dark force harvested within magical folk) certainly freaked me out BUT also flagged a number of questions.

I found Katharine Waterston’s (Inherent Vice) character quite irritating and her delivery was a little flat. BUT once she got caught up in the chaos with Newt and co, she soon grew on me. Her quirky mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), on the other hand, made more of an impression

queenie-goldstein

What?

Jon Voight (Deliverance) was completely unnecessary in his role. Anyone could have played him. In all fairness, there were a lot of faces that popped up in this that were nothing more than flashy cameos.

God knows how they are going to make another FOUR movies?! (That’s right!). It’s best to ignore that little fact before viewing this and take it as a solo effort for now.

BUT as long as they don’t get too bogged down by the dark stuff, I’m happy to take another journey with Newt Scamander and his fantastic beasts.

3.5/5

*NEW* A STREET CAT NAMED BOB REVIEW *NEW*

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An easygoing feel good flick with stellar turns from the two leads.

Based on the international best selling book. The true story of how James Bowen (Luke Treadaway), a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat (Bob).

Ironically, despite that synopsis, I didn’t realise until the opening credits that this was based on a true story. The grim opening sequence gave a hard look into life on the streets with Bowen busking for his next meal (or his next fix).

We watched him sleep rough on a sheet of cardboard in the pouring rain. Rummaging through skips and bins for scraps while fighting back the withdrawal from his drug addiction.

There was even a cringe inducing scene in which the poor chap literally sang for his dinner in a cafe. Just because he was 12p short.

Luke Treadaway is an underrated actor. I enjoyed his turn in Fortitude. It was good to see him get a leading role. He played the part well. He hadn’t got a bad voice either. A cross between Frank Turner and Mumford & Sons.

BUT there wasn’t as much singing as I thought. I expected something a little more in the lines of Once. However, Satellite Moments (Light Up The Sky) was a catchy tune and stand out track.

Director Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) and writers Tim John and Maria Nation got the right balance. In all fairness, if it wasn’t for the overdose sequence, this could have passed as a PG. It wasn’t graphic or violent BUT still hit home.

Darren Evans (My Mad Fat Diary) was quite good as Baz. The relentless junkie desperate for another fix. It was a surprisingly dark opener as Bowen overdosed in a stolen car.

However, our troubled hero gets a second chance in the form of a ginger mog.

There wasn’t enough of Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) as Val. The social worker taking a big gamble on the stumbling drug addict. Refusing to accept Bowen’s excuses BUT desperate to see him make the program.

The film delved into the housing benefits scheme and provided a better insight into the workings behind the Big Issue sellers. I didn’t realise the rules and the various territories. Eye opening.

It was a little cheesy once Bob was thrown into the mix BUT they made an entertaining pair as they both got into all sorts of scraps.

The POV perspectives from Bob did get a little silly. It may have lightened up the serious tone of James’ rehabilitation BUT we didn’t need to see everything James was showing Bob. A friendly visit from a mouse delivered a fitting nod to Tom and Jerry.

The introduction of Bob also introduced aspects of James’ life that he thought were done. Most notably in a blossoming romance with the ditsy super vegan Betty (Ruta Gedmintas).

It was a bit of a change from slaying vampires in The Strain for Gedmintas. She was very good as the enthusiastic veggie. Desperate to help all creatures. Volunteering at a local vet despite being allergic to animals. The pair had great chemistry.

I just wish there was more exploration of James’ relationship with his father (Anthony Head – Buffy the Vampire Slayer). You felt sorry for James as he tried to keep clean and build bridges much to his step mother’s disapproval.

BUT of course, the road to recovery is never easy. This had more of a TV movie feel to the piece BUT it had just enough heart and charm to stand on its own two feet (or paws). Especially after some of the entries hitting the Xmas schedules (Say no more).

It wasn’t quite as hard hitting as I had expected. By all means, it was still very watchable with some endearing moments as we went through the highs and lows BUT if you were expecting Inside Llewyn Davis meets Trainspotting, you might be left disappointed.

Ruth Sheen (Another Year) was completely wasted in her role as Elsie, the friendly passer by who becomes a fan of Bob.

I still can’t believe this was a true story. It was a charming little film that left a nice message and a cheesy smile (Including a passing cameo from Bowen himself).

If that sounds like your cup of tea, check it out.

3/5

*NEW* EYE IN THE SKY REVIEW *NEW*

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I have never been so tense watching somebody buy bread.

A slow burning nail biting thriller that questioned the very morals and ethics behind launching a drone attack.

Col. Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), a military officer in command of an operation to capture terrorists in Kenya, sees her mission escalate when a girl (Faisa Hassan) enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute over the implications of modern warfare.

“In war, truth is the first casualty” – Aeschylus

I was hooked from the moment the credits rolled. The tension bubbling from the off. The slow burning approach allowed us to explore what it actually takes to initiate a drone attack. I couldn’t believe how many task forces and officials were involved. The film flicked back and forth from one unit to another from the drone pilot right down to the on ground surveillance team.

My interest hooked, lined and sinkered. The cast were superb. Mirren was brilliant as the ruthless Col. Hell bent on seizing a terrorist that has evaded capture for six years. Alan Rickman was on fine form as Lieutenant General Frank Benson. He really did steal every scene. It hit home a little more knowing that this would be his last feature.

I liked how writer Guy Hibbert was able to incorporate some humour into this taut affair. I did laugh at Rickman’s old misery guts struggling to buy a doll in a toy shop. He can handle tough decisions and mediate between awkward politicians and military figures BUT can’t buy the toy that cries and poops.

It was good to see Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul break (Not intentional word play there) against type as the conflicted pilot who must drop the payload.

The surveillance, aided with some cracking panoramic and landscape shots from the drone’s point of view, was brilliantly executed. The cool gadgets could easily have teetered on James Bond territory with remote control beetle drones flying around the compound.

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) delivered another sterling supporting turn as Jama, the undercover operative who must sneak into the heavily patrolled village to obtain visual confirmation of the targets. Tense doesn’t even come close.

What should have been a “no brainer” with three members of the most wanted East Africa terrorist list confirmed and minimal collateral damage reported; soon turned into a moral debate that questioned the very ethics of what is deemed acceptable in the rules of engagement.

An almost 12 Angry Men scenario developed as the politicians argued about the implications of launching an attack on a friendly zone. There was some sharp satire with ‘the powers that be’ as they failed to make a decision. “Referring up” or passing the buck from one official to another.

They even referred it back to the Americans in desperation. Their stance on the matter was very black and white; “Terrorist cell confirmed. Permission granted”.

However, things took an even nastier turn when a little Muslim girl set up shop near the compound to sell bread. It really was a roller coaster ride. I haven’t been caught up with such a film in quite some time.

I could feel my patience tested and loyalties divided as the chaos ensued. How much is collateral damage really worth? Monica Dolan’s (The Casual Vacancy) character Angela Northam infuriated me as the PC do gooder that demanded a capture option as one of the terrorists was a British citizen. Declaring her right to a fair trial.

I could empathise with Powell’s frustration at the bureaucracy of it all and the endless “red tape” that she was cutting through to stop an active terrorist attack. The real time frame adding the extra pressure.

BUT as the officials continued to stall (Even taking into account, the PR nightmare that the mission could incur), I found my own decisions changing as the drama unfolded with Paul’s Watts going out of his way to give the little girl time to escape the fallout.

The closing moments were frenetic, suspenseful and heartbreaking with a sombre statement delivered by the great man himself, the late BUT always great Alan Rickman.

A suspense filled thought provoking effort that is definitely worth your time.

4/5