13 user 8 critic

The Mark of Cain (2007)

R | | Drama, War | 25 November 2008 (USA)
Uses detailed research and explosive new testimonies by soldiers who have served in Iraq to tell an emotional fictional story of two young men very much out of their depth.


Marc Munden


Tony Marchant

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6 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gerard Kearns ... Mark 'Treacle' Tate
Matthew McNulty ... Shane Gulliver
Naomi Bentley ... Shelley
Elliot Cowan ... Captain Worriss
Brendan Coyle ... Davey Gulliver
Heather Craney ... Brenda Tate
Shaun Dingwall ... Major Godber
Shaun Dooley ... Corporal Gant
Leo Gregory ... Lance Corporal Quealey
Alistair Petrie ... Major Rod Gilchrist
Pip Torrens ... Colonel Hampton
Roger Barclay ... Adjutant
Matthew Gravelle ... Chaplain
Kevin Knapman Kevin Knapman ... Pvt Soldier 1
Simon Naylor ... Pvt Soldier 2


GULLIVER and TATE - nickname 'Treacle' - are two ordinary 18 year-olds serving in the British Army in Iraq. Their platoon is struggling to maintain the uneasy peace of 2003. When their popular company captain, GODBER, is killed on patrol by a roadside bomb, morale in the platoon hits rock bottom. Acting on orders they round up several suspects from house-to-house searches. That night feelings at the camp are running high and as the chain of command is weakened and events spiral out of control. The lads end their tour of duty and return to England full of stories but also shaken by their experiences. Iraq comes back to haunt them when Gulliver's jilted girlfriend, Shelley, decides to get her own back on him by giving photos of the events in Iraq to the British police. The story hits the press, and Gulliver and Treacle, now the most reviled men in Britain, face court martial. The army claims the two are 'rotten apples' acting alone. Guilt-ridden and abandoned, the pressure is too much ... Written by Red Production Company

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content including torture, pervasive language and some nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

25 November 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kainin merkki See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Gulliver and Tate are outside, before they go to beat the prisoners, the scene changes from morning to the middle of the night, after watching the other soldiers walk towards the cells and cut back to them talking. See more »


Featured in Screenwipe: Review of the Year 2007 (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Falls down a bit in the final third but is mostly strong and convincing
6 May 2007 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Once the mission was "accomplished" in Iraq and the end of major combat operations was announced, parts of the country were handed over to the armed forces for the purposes of enforcing the peace and winning over the hearts and minds of the newly free Iraqi people. A group of British soldiers are stationed in Basra to this end under a steady commander. However when a patrol is ambushed and their commander is lost, the decision is made to enforce justice fast and hard to send a clear message out.

This was originally down to be screened in the week that the British sailors were being held after being captured supposedly in Iranian waters. Channel 4 folded under pressure and pulled the screening because it was said it may "inflame" the situation and make it harder for the UK to find a democratic solution. I'm not sure if this was true (as it turned out they were actually released on the day this was postponed) because it was only ever going to be watched by a million or two if that, plus the story was already contrasting obviously with footage of how the US and UK treated prisoners (which I assume was why Iran made such a big show of how they hold our prisoners).

Anyway, although it is stated up front that this is a work of fiction, it is clear that it has been very well researched because it does strike home as very convincing. This is most evident in the first half as the squaddies patrol the Basra streets, innocence is lost, violence is sudden and the soldiers react in different ways. This much is very well done and the script rings true. The main scene of action is really well delivered and it is well used as it folds into the changes in the characters and what they end up doing. This is rather lost near the end where I wasn't sold on it. Suddenly the script becomes clunky with characters speaking in "moral arguments" and speeches rather than sounding like real people. This also coincides with the narrative becoming weaker as well.

To me this occurred where we went too much into the court case and had too much said that didn't need to be said. It would have been better to have had a much more subtle touch but it doesn't manage it. It is a shame and not even the performances of the lead two can totally convince in these later stages. This is saying something though because I thought the cast was mostly very good, with particular credit being owed to Kearns and McNulty. Gregory and Dooley are also strong and it is only some of the actors playing the brass who are a bit weaker.

Despite the flaws associated with the final third, the film is actually very strong and convincingly written and delivered.

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