*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

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*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)