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Monday, June 13, 2011

243. Route Irish


    So, after the excitement of the weekend, it's back to playing catch-up with Route Irish which was at cinemas a couple of months ago.
    I can't really explain why I missed out on it first time around because it showed at art houses in the Midlands, as well as on premier fee TV.
    Nevertheless, Lovefilm has filled the gap and I can now report on Ken Loach's movie about the hellishly dangerous world of private contractors in Iraq.
    And I have to say I'm rather schizophrenic in my opinions.
    On one hand, I was largely engaged in the story of a boyhood friend trying to find out how his great pal met his death on the most dangerous stretch of road in the world, from Baghdad to the city's airport.
    On the other, some of the acting was strangely below par.
    Mark Womack plays Fergus, a former special ops officer who had persuaded his best friend Frankie (John Bishop) to join him in a lucrative private security operation.
    Fergus is back in Liverpool when Frankie is killed. His bosses say he died simply because he was in ''the wrong place at the wrong time.''
    But Fergus refuses to swallow this explanation and when he discovers the truth becomes bent on revenge.
    There are two elements to commend Route Irish. Firstly, Womack is convincing as the angry friend who consistently reacts with a kneejerk. Secondly, Loach effectively uses real archive footage of bloody incidents in Iraq to force home the point of virtual anarchy in that country since the Allies invaded.
    Sadly, however, Womack gets little back-up from the rest of the cast. I really wondered at one point if one of the actors had forgotten their lines. I shall not name him to avoid his blushes.
    I am amazed such ordinary acting got past the normally meticulous Loach.
    I also had a bit of an issue with the role of Andrea Lowe, Womack's co-star. When we first meet her she rightly looks drawn and dowdy, as she is grieving over her recently killed husband.
    As the movie goes on she starts to look prettier and prettier. Had she forgotten him, so quickly?
    But what really puts the tin hat on Route Irish is its conclusion. This is when drama is lost and farce and cliche take over.
    This was a shame because all along I felt that the movie had real promise. But its negatives mean I can only rate it at 5/10.

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