Total Film Review

Total Film (October 1998)
by Cam Winstanley (3 stars out of 5)

Andy McNab's best-selling novel tells of classic English heroic failure. Funded by the BBC and brought out on video prior to its TV showing, it's as close to the book as it could have been. No heroics, no "Follow me, men!" scenes, just eight elite SAS troops realising their Gulf War mission into Iraq has been rumbled and that they've got to shoot their way out of the country.

Troy Kennedy Martin's screenplay strikes the right balance between the men and their mission - they obsess about the flavour of their boiled sweets one moment, then discuss combat tactics the next.

The fighting is believable and tense, particularly when they realise there's nowhere to run and suicidally charge several enemy armoured vehicles. Indeed, the only real clanger in the production is the choice of incidental music. Phil Collins' wheedling 'Something in The Air Tonight,' anyone?

Like the book, this TV movie is a curiously unapologetic portrayal of military conflict, more 'war is my job' than 'war is hell'. And as a true story, it plays up the anti-climatic nature of events, where some die and others return to a drab MOD estate in Hereford. Be thankful that the Beeb made it, and did so true to the events and the book. Imagine what would have happened if Bruckheimer got there first.


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