*NEW* THE SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE REVIEW *NEW*

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Gripping, shocking and a bloody good watch!

Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan – Fifty Shades of Grey) leads a stand off with troops against French and Belgian Mercenaries in the Congo during the early 1960s.

How did this not get a better release? Well, at least this movie established one thing. Netflix are funding the right scripts.

Any one can film a true life event BUT that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be any good. Come on, we have the True Movies channel that says otherwise. There’s some real gems on there.

I was recommended this little war flick after my family were bored one evening and “borrowed” my Amazon Fire Stick. I’m glad they brought it to my attention.

It got straight to business throwing us right into the befuddling chaos with the Congo in dispute and heavy pressure from the USSR and USA forcing the UN to intervene.

UN ‘peacekeepers’ choosing Ireland as a neutral force to provide security to a dilapidated compound. Open for attack with only two exit points.

The first 30 minutes was slow burning BUT intriguing. We followed the backhanded deals between the UN Secretary General (Mikael Persbrandt) and Conor Cruise O’Brien (Mark Strong fetching a very bad wig).

The hypocrisy as the officials passed the buck. Ordering the clueless troops to protect important vantage points in a feeble bid to stop the ruthless and calculated Moise Tshombe (Danny Sapani).

It was good to see Sapani (Penny Dreadful) get a meatier role as the slimy general playing the officials off against each other.

Jamie Dornan was superb. At first, I wasn’t sure that his performance would be strong enough for the character BUT it worked.

A clever academic that can quote Rommel and Caesar with the drop of a hat BUT has never fought in a battle before. The troops just as unconvinced with their commandant as the audience.

I loved how SoJ didn’t mess about with the cliched build up that has tragically become the norm in war films of late.

We didn’t need a back story for every character. We cared for them and the situation that they had unwittingly stumbled upon. Soldiers merely following orders.

Outmanned, outgunned and out of time. I still couldn’t believe that this was a true story as the troops discovered their limited supplies, shoddy equipment and lack of coverage.

The tension as Quinlan encountered the French legionnaires in a rundown bar. Nail biting. Guillame Canet (Tell No One) was very good as the shady Rene Falques. A mercenary respectfully warning the Irishmen to stand down.

The verbal sparring as the pair shared a glass of Cognac was brilliant. Kevin Brodbin’s dialogue was fantastic; “Not many Frenchmen like German tacticians. It only took them two weeks to take over your entire country”.

150 vs. 15,000. It was a 13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi set up without the agonizing pace. The odds growing against them as they endured wave after devastating wave.

Emmanuelle Seigner (The Diving Bell and The Butterfly) was wasted in her role as Madame LaFontagne. Her character nothing more than a plot device. Confirming Quinlan’s suspicions that Jadotville was a vital mining area for minerals and uranium.

The action was frantic, fast paced and enthralling. I was hooked. The CGI and effects were pretty impressive for a limited budget.

“What’s it like getting shot? I wouldn’t recommend it”. I didn’t expect the humour as the lads tried to make sense of it all. Fantastic.

The only thing I could mark the film down for was that there were only several faces other than Dornan and the equally brilliant Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) that we actually stuck with. The rest were lost in the chaos.

BUT I was completely caught up in this. I wasn’t fidgeting or messing about on my phone. I was rooting for them from the get go.

I was even yelling at the legionnaires as they cheated at every obstacle. Faking a ceasefire to pick up the wounded and launch mortar attacks!

Mark Strong was excellent as O’Brien. Sitting on the sidelines and churning out all sorts of rubbish to Quinlan in desperation as the plan failed. Telling him to hold his ground. Despicable.

The finale was unbelievable and emotional as our heroes returned to an empty airfield. No one to welcome them home. Branded cowards in a battle they should never have had to fight.

It took 40 years for the ‘A’ Company to receive their medals of honour. Shocking. The credits and figures really hit home.

I cannot praise this film enough. Worthy of your time. This might even creep into my top war films list.

If you haven’t got Netflix, get it, steal it and watch this. If you have, why aren’t you watching it?

4/5

*NEW* JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK REVIEW *NEW*

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Generic by the book (OR NOT if you’re a fan) actioner that killed the time BUT offered little else.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. BUT on the run as a fugitive from the law, he uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

I’ve never read the Lee Child novels and I know a lot of fans were not happy to hear that the six foot blonde super soldier was being taken on by the 54 year old hobbit Tom Cruise. BUT I really liked Reacher’s first foray onto the silver screen. It was quick witted, dark, gritty and action packed.

I was actually looking forward to the sequel BUT by the time the credits rolled, I was left feeling disappointed. Reuniting with The Last Samurai director Edward Zwick, I expected so much more from Cruise and co.

The opening delivered with Reacher held up at a diner. A trail of unconscious men welcoming the local law enforcement. “There are two things that are going to happen”. Once that phone rang in the background, I cracked a grin.

It felt like we hadn’t left him. A shame that momentum couldn’t be carried on. While the elongated title sequence and credits flashed across the screen, we watched Reacher finding solace in talking with Major Turner (Cobie Smulders). It was a little too corny for my liking as the pair struck up a friendship and agreed to meet for a date. Awww. Yuck.

However, things did pick up as Reacher finally arrived at Washington only to discover that Turner had been arrested for treason.

The next 30 minutes or so I was engrossed in the cloak and dagger stuff as the military went out of their way to stop Reacher sniffing around. Holt McCallany (Gangster Squad) was brilliant as the slimy Colonel Morgan.

If anything, I wish his character was in it more. He was a better villain than Patrick Heusinger (Black Swan). He may have had a cool title as The Hunter BUT he was too one dimensional to care about. He did his best BUT he was just another stock baddie. It didn’t help that the script didn’t have any clever dialogue. The lines were so flat and dull.

It was missing something. Christopher McQuarrie’s (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) direction. The snappy one liners. The suspense. Even the car chases didn’t impress. It was watchable and the shoot out sequences and punch em ups were entertaining enough BUT they soon grew tedious and predictable as the running time staggered along.

Whilst trying to discover the reason for Turner’s incarceration, Reacher was sandbagged with the news that he may have a daughter. Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn) played Samatha well and there were moments to be had as the hard man struggled to impose control over a teenager BUT it was cliched to boot.

Cobie Smulders (Yes, she does. What?!) wasn’t too bad as Turner. It was good to see the How I Met Your Mother star finally get a meatier role. A shame that her character was too much like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Maria Hill. She just tried to out-Reacher Reacher for the majority of the film BUT it just didn’t work.

The machismo talk between the pair did spark a snappy little argument on who would protect Samantha. Reacher telling Turner to stay behind on the grounds of being a woman. In a different film, this could have been something BUT it came off hammy and poorly timed.

Even the story line didn’t offer that much. I actually got lost at one point as Reacher and co found a lead out of nowhere BUT it was merely another excuse for another drawn out ultra-violent punch up.

And after all that mystery and build up, the reveal was so disappointing and predictable. Another generic thriller with a bog standard twist. Cruise did his best with the part BUT I have to agree with my mate who said that Reacher has become nothing more than an Ethan Hunt spin-off series.

It wasn’t bad by any means. If you’re in the mood for a frantic shoot em up to kill the time, then give it a go. Just don’t expect too much.

2.5/5