Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan leads a stand off with troops against French and Belgian Mercenaries in the Congo during the early 1960s.Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan leads a stand off with troops against French and Belgian Mercenaries in the Congo during the early 1960s.Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan leads a stand off with troops against French and Belgian Mercenaries in the Congo during the early 1960s.
I'm slightly reluctant to report that the film itself is something of a mixed bag. Its a particularly difficult story to tell because so many of the events are mired in historical controversy. Even a Graham Greene or John Le Carre would struggle to make sense of the conflicting real life plots of that period. Ultimately, nobody really knows why it was thought to make sense to isolate the soldiers in Jadotville and then fail so miserably to support them, or for that matter why the Katangans were so determined to dislodge them. We only know that the soldiers were victims of geopolitical plotting far from the battlefield. The films tortuous script tries hard to illuminate the multiple double dealings going on in the background, but ultimately this becomes tiresome and excessively literal.
The film tries very hard to be both a historical record, reasonably faithful to the events, and also a kick ass action film. Thats a very hard trick to pull off, and it doesn't quite manage it. Primarily, I think the problem is an excessively literal script - full of little walk in parts from historical figures making portentous and suitably ambiguous statements, with some clunky domestic scenes that try to illuminate the men behind the soldiers stranded in the town. Some of the dialogue is frankly a little painful. Thankfully, this is balanced by genuinely superb action scenes and a great narrative pace. I couldn't help thinking that this is a film that could have done with two different directors - the actual director who shows great talent and skill filming in Jadotville, and another who could handle the other parts of the film with a bit more subtlety and empathy.
It is a pity that it seems the film will not have a wide cinema release, because it deserves to be seen in the cinema. Certainly the audience in the cinema where I watched it were very enthusiastic about it (not least the ladies behind me who regularly expressed their appreciation of Jamie Doran quite loudly). But with luck it will be widely seen on Netflix.
- Oct 2, 2016