*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

*OSCAR WINNER* THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING REVIEW

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It really did have a bit of everything. Phenomenal acting, heartfelt drama and an inspiring true story.

Can I pick fault at the Oscar winning of one of the most intelligent and courageous physicists in the world?

There’s only one way to find out.

No, I can’t. Brilliant.

It’s hard to rant about a film when it was executed so perfectly. Finally a good film!

Eddie Redmayne was outstanding. It didn’t feel like I was watching an actor doing an impression. I felt like I was watching Hawking.

He delivered sincerity and charm to the role with aplomb. A charismatic performance that deservedly earned that shiny Oscar.

The opening zips along and is relatively easy going with Stephen and Jane (Felicity Jones) first meeting and inevitably falling in love.

It’s a little schmaltzy if I’m being really picky but the pair have fantastic chemistry to make it more than bearable.

It is heartbreaking as we see a chipper lovestruck Hawking focusing on his studies. Completely unaware of what lurks around the corner.

Director James Marsh and writer Anthony McCarten handle the story delicately.

We see Stephen begin to stumble, clumsily drop things and struggle to write little bits of equations. That is until one little accident . . .

All it took was one trip on the pavement. It happened quite unexpectedly. A few people actually jumped in the screen.

This soon becomes something so much more. As does this story.

Hawking soon has to deal with being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (ALS). An initial diagnosis that only gave him a life span of two years.

I couldn’t even imagine what it must have felt like and still feel for the man.

I won’t delve too much into the story because I want you guys to see this one.

What was interesting about The Theory of Everything is that it’s not just Stephen’s story. It’s also Jane’s story.

Both not fully prepared with what this diagnosis would do. The challenge it would become. The toll it would take.

Felicity Jones (Cemetery Junction/Chalet Girl) gave a fantastic performance as Jane and certainly earned that nomination. I expect to see more of her in the foreseeable future.

Doing everything she can for the man she loves and marrying him so they can enjoy whatever time they have left.

Heartbreaking, beautiful and inspiring.

If you are expecting more of the science stuff. Science stuff? Only the creation of the entire universe.

The film doesn’t really bog down too much on that aspect. It focuses very much on the people behind the science.

You could argue that a biopic always wins BIG. And just because it is a biopic, people will say it’s good and deserves an Oscar.

Not so! There’s a whole schedule of them on True Movies that will prove that theory wrong.

All it takes is a bad script, bad actor or bad execution and the biopic (No matter how inspiring or interesting it is) is ruined.

Luckily, there is never a doubt.

Hawking continues to miraculously defy his diagnosis BUT the condition take its toll NOT just on the man.

As well as seeing Hawking’s daily struggle, we also see Jane’s. By looking at how both Stephen and Jane are affected, we have a more rounded story.

Both aren’t painted perfectly in this tale.

It is tough to watch at times and you can feel for the pair. Jane made a sacrifice not completely aware of its full extent.

Redmayne really captures the expressions and movements intricately.

There is quite a bit of humour. Most notably being when Stephen is finally given a voice after losing his own. And the voice, we all know, being American. “Is that a problem?”, mutters the naive technician. A little grin flickers across the professor’s face.

Come on. Be honest. How many people thought he was American? No, just me. Oops.

I didn’t realise what Hawking had to endure. The constant battle with his body as it continues to shut down.

Things take an even more dramatic turn when Jane starts having feelings for another man.

The introduction of Jonathan (Charlie Cox) was an interesting development and was handled delicately.

It hits home a little harder when Stephen asks Jonathan to keep helping around the house because his wife needs him.

Charlie Cox (Boardwalk Empire) was very good. He had great chemistry with Jones and worked well with Redmayne.

The dynamic certainly sparked questions on Jane’s behaviour but at the same time you could relate and understand.

Even Professor Hawking seemed to be getting very close to his speech therapist (Maxine Peake).

The toll really starting to take a hold.

The cast cannot be faltered. Even the supporting cast was superb consisting of the likes of David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen from Game of Thrones!) and Simon McBurney (The Vicar of Dibley).

It really is an inspiring story of one mans struggle to defy the odds. But no one can do it alone. Jane’s support and dedication is something to be commemorated.

The final moments were touching. An uplifting, easygoing and wonderful acted biopic. A little cheesy BUT it really did have a bit of everything.

One of the best films, if NOT the best film, of the year. SO FAR.

4/5