johnlink ranks DIRTY WAR (2004)

This is a movie I had never heard of, co produced by HBO and the BBC, which concerns a small nuclear device detonating in the middle of London. The premise hinted at an exciting thriller, so I thought I would give it a go. SPOILERS BELOW, but I’m warning you that you may want them so you don’t waste your time with this movie.

I watched DIRTY WAR (2004) on 3.25.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

I wish this had a better script. The actors, none of which were familiar to me, all worked nicely with what they were given. Especially good are Alastair Galbraith as the leader of a group of firefighters who have become a lead nuclear response team by default, Louise Delamere as his wife, and Koel Purie as a detective working with an anti-terrorism unit who is also Muslim.

The story starts with a training drill followed by lots of character supplied facts about how unprepared London would be for a terrorist attack. This is followed by a team of anti-terrorists hunting down some people, followed by a detonation and the fallout.

Unfortunately, much of the script is interested in selling us something which we don’t need to be sold. We know the world is a dangerous place. I would much rather have these characters giving information about their personal lives than learning the percentage of containment suits which do and do not work. It all builds to the explosion, which is done surprisingly well on a TV movie budget. But then, when things get real interesting, when everything seems at a breaking point, as the crowd no longer wants to wait to be decontaminated while standing around breathing  in toxic air, and the heroes contamination levels are off the charts, but they brave on anyway… as all this is coming to a head… TWO WEEKS LATER hits the screen, and we are given the aftermath.


I waited through an hour of exposition for the bomb to hit, to see how these people I have come to know would react, and I was rewarded with surprisingly little. Yes the anti-terrorism team makes a big stop, it was one of the best surprise moments of the movie, but there could have been so much as desperate people grow more desperate. But this film doesn’t want to get into that ugly side of the public, that isn’t its point. It’s point is that terrorists are bad (while being careful to point out that not all Muslims are terrorists), that the Brits fighting the war are courageous even as they are betrayed by ineptitude in the political system.

Thing is, I wanted to like what happened. It bugs me more as time goes on, because some nice performances were wasted by a junky script. The film had been doing a nice job of using its budget wisely, so it didn’t feel like an issue of running out of money. It felt like an issue of running out of ideas.

I’d much, much rather watch 24 again rather than revisiting this disappointment.






~ by johnlink00 on March 26, 2012.

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