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The Front Line
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Front Line More at IMDbPro »

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Index 14 reviews in total 

20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A very good movie that deserves to succeed

9/10
Author: Major_Movie_Star from Ireland
4 September 2006

I'd be inclined to give this movie 8.5 out of 10. It is a refreshing example of a good story well told, in contrast to the contrived pap and movie-star-vehicles that spill out of Hollywood these days. It is an ambitious and brave attempt by the director/writer/producer to do something top-notch for Irish cinema. It has something to show and something to tell. The tagline is well chosen, and the theme is well resolved. The theme is that none of us knows who he is until put to the test. I found the story entirely believable.

Gleeson is something of a man with a mission who tries to do a little bit too much. He brings a racist cleaner/maintenance-man into the plot, in part to demonstrate the man's conversion to good thinking; unfortunately this is done in a way that injures the credibility of the plot, and it would be best if it could be cut entirely before the film goes on broader release.

It has been said that Gleeson has made "a hard-edged underworld thriller with a twist", and he has indeed. It has also been said that "everything happens a little too quickly and Gleeson might have slowed things down to build characters and relationships rather than show them in flashback later on, when it's too late, and we've already decided if we like or dislike those involved". That is particularly true of McSorley's character; a little more time and finesse would have gone a long way toward establishing the basis of his empathy with Joe Yumba.

Gleeson's screenplay is remarkably original, and worth seeing for that reason alone. He spent six weeks in the Democratic Republic of Congo in early 2004, meeting people who had been in similar situations. He also researched the ongoing conflict in the State, which has resulted in the deaths of as many as five million people, from horrific acts of brutality.

The showdown between Joe and the gangsters on the capital's Henry Street is a particular highlight, and a piece of modern Irish cinema at its best.

The Front Line has been described elsewhere as "a refreshing, character-driven alternative to the shallow comedies, thrill-less thrillers and bum-numbing budget-chewing two-hour-plus epics currently clogging up your local cinema schedules." So it is. It is not perfect, but its good points far outweigh its bad points, and it is more than a cut above the average. Hopefully Gleeson will go on to do more and better.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Quite simply the most unexpected best film I've seen this year!

9/10
Author: rick_uk from United Kingdom
9 February 2007

I've watched some films this year really expecting, and hoping, they would be good. Some met my expectations, some exceeded them and some fell short. I had not heard of this film; but it was the most unexpected joy since Everything Is Illuminated (2005).

It succeeds on so many levels. As a thriller is gripped me from the first beat to the last. The characters were well-rounded, believable and performances, especially by Ebouaney, McSorley and N'Diaye were superb. Where had these actors come from? I to search IMDb to convince myself they were acting! I don't know much about Congolese politics, but the back story was completely believable and horrifying in equal measure. "Documentary" shots and montages worked well to reinforce this. And it made me want to learn more and reconsider my thoughts on the "problem" of "their" immigration. Whoever "they" may be.

In response to world events, some films in recent years have rightly focused on international politics, the communication between people within and between different nations. And Crash did very well, hence Babel, both of which I enjoyed.

But this film achieves more than what both of the above did and on a fraction of the budget! I'd never heard of David Gleeson, but his writing and direction was superb. I will definitely be renting the whole of his back catalogue - and buying this DVD. Please put lots of extras on it David! In summary, I was blown away by the performances of the actors, the detail and complexity of the script and the way in which the subject matter was handled. To come across such a film from left-field was a joy and a rare pleasure. I hope it reflects positively on the CV's of all involved and we see much more of them, as they deserve it.

Great job David and all involved.

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25 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Pure Cinema!

10/10
Author: jamesbond000 from Ireland
29 August 2006

Who would have thought it possible? A shoot-em-up with serious soul. Writer/director David Gleeson's decision to offer Dublin-based heist-movie THE FRONT LINE as his attempt to build on the promise shown in his debut, COWBOYS & ANGELS, might initially have smacked of the formulaic. But the good news is that the end product bristles with freshness and cinematic sophistication.

There's nothing new about a heist movie with a hard edge, but THE FRONT LINE comes with a hard edge and considerable heart.

Convincing performances and visually strong production values ensure the thriller aspect of the first half will bring you to the edge of the seat. Unlike so many comparable efforts, however, THE FRONT LINE gives you something to think about when you get there.

Just as it seems inevitable that entertainment levels will flag, disturbing revelations about Joe's true identity elevate proceedings to an absorbing consideration of that most fertile of territories for great art – the sometimes thin line between the divine and the depraved.

Ebouaney and McSorley are strikingly good in the central roles, and while some of the observances about Dublin-based gangsters seem a tad far-fetched, this is but a minor quibble.

Gleeson has delivered a terrific film that reminds us what big screens were made for.

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15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A Ground breaking film

Author: greenbuff
21 September 2006

The Front Line marks a major watershed in Irish cinema. Addressing issues of immigration and the horrors of genocide in Africa in a contemporary thriller which plays out on the streets of Dublin, David Gleeson has raised the bar considerably for an Irish film.

The director's previous film, Cowboys and Angels, which he also wrote, stands as one of the best Irish films of the last decade. Deceptively simple and light in tone Gleeson addressed similar issues of alienation and broke new ground even then by moving away from the ponderous and the frankly dour image which Irish films hitherto presented of Ireland.

Although a very different film and working with a much larger budget, The Front Line is a more rewarding cinematic experience. Graced with a hypnotic central performance from Eriq Ebouaney the film grips from the opening set up in the Garda Immigration bureau.

Supporting cast are exceptional with outstanding turns from Fatou N'Diaye as Kala and Hakeem Kae Kazim as the sinister and hugely charismatic Erasmus. James Frain turns in a chilling performance as the scariest bad guy ever to roam the streets of Dublin. Patrick Cassidy's music also deserves particular praise.

I can't think of any other film with which to compare this. Perhaps Dirty Pretty Things comes closest but for emotional impact this is a far richer experience.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The dance macabre of Hema and Lendu tribe.

7/10
Author: simon-psykolog from Denmark
27 December 2007

I saw this movie as one that tried both to entertain and to be political. This mix could be dangerous in the sense that both of these goals very well could be ruined. But I think that the movie succeeded on both accounts.

Joe Yumba is a black man who arrives to Ireland from Congo and is granted permission to stay and find work to his joy and relief. He seems honest but at the same time you get the feeling that he is hiding something. He is very soon put to the test as the local mafia wants to exploit him to rob the bank where he has found work as a security guy. Through the story that follows you slowly get to know what he has been through in Congo.

In some respects it resembles many action movies but the characters in this one are more vibrant and believable than what you are used to in the Hollywood productions and this is really what makes this movie stand out.

I give this one 7/10.

Regards Simon

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Delivers so much more than it promises

9/10
Author: dfgrayb from Illinois
25 February 2009

What starts off looking like a routine action thriller about a bank heist gradually becomes something much more. Eriq Ebouaney is a security guard at a bank, whose family is kidnapped to force him to assist in the robbery.

The film is in many respects a revisiting of the John Wayne/John Ford classic The Searchers, in that the viewer gradually realizes that the ostensible plot (the bank robbery) is not really at the center of the film. Just as in The Searchers, where the film is really about Wayne's search to find his own humanity and not his niece who has been captured by the Comanches, so too in The Front Line, Ebouaney's pursuit to rescue his family is his search to find his own redemption as a human being. Over the course of the film, because of the fine performances and direction, we are drawn into Ebouaney's internal pain and love, and we almost want to say to him "Be at peace. Your soul is good." This is a remarkable and moving film. Successful on many levels. Ebouaney's performance is stunning. The plot, which begins as a bank robbery, becomes a story that is breathtakingly beautiful, powerful, and unforgettable.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Compassion and sorrow

9/10
Author: sergepesic from Minneapolis, USA
2 November 2009

The world is changing. Ireland used to be a place where people starved and dispersed around the globe in hope of a better life. Today people from troubled faraway lands come to Ireland to seek sanctuary. But sometimes there is no sanctuary to be found, the perils are following wherever we go. This powerful movie was advertised as a thriller, but the thrills that this story provides in abundance are of a different kind.The suffering of genocide victims in Congo or any other place on earth is unimaginable. Hollywood with its contrivances can not possibly match the shocking occurrences that life can impose on some poor souls. The Irish filmmakers took a different path, of compassion and sorrow and it filled our hearts with sincere emotions. Most of all thanks to a amazing performance of little known Eriq Ebouaney. His quiet, dignified presence spoke more than a million words.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

It's like a good wine, the older it is, longer it goes on, the better it is.

8/10
Author: Patrick Mercie from Ireland
30 January 2008

When I read the storyline on the back of the cover I was sold and had to watch it. I mean it is an Irish film. We have seen some absolute peaches of films come out of Ireland recently. Think of Mickeybo & me, Inside I'm dancing, Garage, Adam & Paul etc... This is up there with them. In the beginning of the film the plot line is a bit thin and the movie is a slow mover but it gathers momentum and pace throughout until the bitter end of it. The acting is credible as is the developing interaction between its main characters. There was no point in the film after the first 20 minutes that I thought 'this can't ever happen'. A big round of congrats to the crew and actors for a thoroughly enjoyable film. And it makes you think and reflect on top of it all!!!

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

seeking asylum

7/10
Author: joegreene32
24 November 2006

This isn't a bad attempt at an Irish crime movie. While James Frain hams it up as a baddie, Eric Ebouaney is very watchable as an asylum seeker looking to settle in the city. He is man with a secret just trying to get by and escape his past in the Congo. His wife and son arrive to be with him, but all is not what it seems. Taking a job as a security guard at a bank, he is soon in the thick of it, the victim of a from the headlines tiger kidnapping. When things go awry as they invariably do in this genre piece, there is hell to pay. Getting into bed with a gang of African racketeers – a first in an Irish film – the film subtly examines the plight of a refugee in an alien country, albeit against a heightened backdrop. The performances from Ebouaney and Hakeem Kae Kazim are good, though the Irish characters, particularly the police, are a little stiff. Camera-work is good and the soundtrack contemporary. The twist at the end is okay. Certainly an improvement on the director's first outing Cowboys and Angels. Warning: Brendan Gleeson is not in this film.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Modern Irish crime thriller...

6/10
Author: Tim Kidner (tim@kidnerpix.com) from Salisbury, United Kingdom
12 July 2012

The DVD, in photos online, tell you nothing. (I watched it late night, BBC2). Firstly, it's written/directed by Limerick born David Gleeson (this is his 2nd feature), is set in Dublin, 93mins long and stars Eriq Ebouaney and James Frain.

Ebouaney plays a Congolese immigrant, who has escaped a violent past in his homeland. He's brought his wife over and they have a young girl. He's found work as a security guard at a bank but past events come back to haunt him, when Irish thug Frain and his gang kidnap his family - all he has to do is be the insider for them robbing his bank.

It's a polished and modern production, with lots of moody lighting, booming bass thuds and prowling camera, so, so far, so good. As a heist movie, it's OK but that tired formula needs a bit more to get a movie standing out above the rest. Ebouaney helps this, he is both convincing as the new citizen trying to lead a good life and as a human being out of his depth. Frain has less screen presence but is suitably psychotic where he should be.

The whole thing moves along pretty quickly - in just over half an hour, they're already inside the bank vaults. It's also great to see a different city and its streets to the usual as a setting.

Such crime thrillers aren't my staple film diet so The Front Line will never make any of my top anything lists. However, if such are, you could do a lot worse than this one for a mid-week rental or if you can find it on Sky somewhere. At the price here, it's just not worth it, though.

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