RELEASE DATE: 11th March2016
RATING: 13 V
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 42min
GENRE: Drama, Thriller, War
STARING: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Faisa Hassan, Bob Chappell, Babou Ceesay, Ahmed Mohamed Ali, Phoebe Fox, Lemogang Tsipa,
DIRECTOR: Gavin Hood
WRITERS: Guy Hibbert (screenplay)
PRODUCERS: Claudia Bluemhuber, Ged Doherty, Cheryl Eatock, Colin Firth
PRODUCTION BUDGET: N/A
When is collateral damage acceptable?
The British military has set up a major capture operation for a wanted terrorist, former British citizen Susan Helen Danford (Lex King), but when she, her husband, also a known terrorist, and two recent visitors to Kenya with ties to the terrorists, one a British student, the other an American one, move from a controlled area into an area controlled by the extremists, the operation is changed from a capture to a kill op. This will be carried out by launching a missile from a drone hovering above the action, but as they prepare to fire a little girl (Aisha Takow) makes her way into the kill zone. This starts a discussion between all those involved about what acceptable loses are actually acceptable.
WHY WATCH IT
This is taught, well written and thought provoking piece of cinema. The story is one we’ve seen before, with one major difference. The military has a bee-line on terrorists, and normally they would blow them sky high without thinking, but then a little girl gets in the way and everyone starts to question what is right and what is wrong. The military are thinking in terms of what is legally acceptable in terms of the child dying, the politicians are looking at what would make them look bad, while others involved are shattered by the fact that they’re about to kill a child. It’s an interesting exploration into the moral question involved in launching missiles from distance, and those caught in the crossfire. It also illustrates how it’s all a vicious cycle. The people that launch the weapons know that they are doing the right thing, saving innocents from suicide bombers, but those that are caught in the fallout only see it as an attack on them and their homes, making them hate the attackers, and creating more terrorists. They are, in essence, creating their own enemies. It’s a sad circle of hatred.
The performances are good across the board.
Helen Mirren gives a solid, albeit cold and disconnected, performance as the military commander in charge of the operation. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get her target, and shuts her emotions and morals down to achieve just that goal.
The late, great Alan Rickman is her immediate superior and is very much the same as her, trying to get the mission to succeed. He has the added drama of being in a room full of politicians, each of which are trying to pass the buck to someone else so they don’t have to make the decision to actually kill this little girl. It’s a crazy game of hot potato, with the loser signing this child’s death warrant.
The actual people pulling the trigger are played by Aaran Paul and Phoebe Fox. They are pilots of the drone high above the streets, carrying the pay load, and the ones that actually have to pull the trigger and shoot the bomb. Their performances are emotionally loaded, especially when they look at the screens and see the visuals of the little girl trying to sell her bread. It’s heart wrenching.
The emotional crux of the film is the little girl. Takow does a wonderful job giving this little girl life. She’s just an ordinary little girl, living in a crazy situation. She has to hide her books when people come to her house, being a girl and not being allowed to learn. She creates a character that the audience really feels for, and really want to see her survive this harrowing ordeal.
If you liked films like Black hawk Down or Zero Dark Thirty you’ll probably enjoy this film. It’s more cerebral than most films in this genre, but it’s the better for it.
Jon Broeke (@jonbroeke)