How entertaining? ★★★☆☆
Thought provoking? ★☆☆☆☆
29 August 2011
This a movie review of THE VETERAN.
After RocknRolla it was only a matter of time before Toby Kebbell got handed a leading roll. For me he’d already knocked it out of the park in Dead Man's Shoes. Though not really tested much in The Veteran, the point was probably to show off some of his action chops. I don’t think Proust has someone running around a council estate with a machine gun? This is more like Michael Caine’s Harry Brown, with political paranoia thrown in. Ambition is on display, which I always admire; there is an amalgam of conspiracy thriller, post-traumatic stress disorder aftermath, and espionage action flick. What a combo!! If that’d worked, I’m sure The Veteran would be being talked about in the same breath as the Jason Bourne trilogy. However, while the elements kind of work together, each one is not well done of itself. So the conspiracy thriller has been done so well in State of Play (TV show that is) and famously in All the President’s Men and The Parallax View; the aftermath of war in Taxi Driver and First Blood; and the espionage action flick, well you can name them yourselves. It could be the obvious lack of resources to compete with the above, or the lack of skill when it comes to the directing and writing.
Kebbell’s Miller has returned to London from fighting in Afghanistan a reluctant hero, and unsure what job to do next. Aural flashbacks tell us he is obviously still partly there. To make matters worse his council estate is being run by a violent drug dealer. Miller’s buddy gets him involved with some sort of fixer Chris (Tony Curran) and a Home Office apparatchik Gerry (Brian Cox). They want to know why one of their assets who has insinuated herself within a terrorist cell has gone dark. He accepts and due to his resourcefulness pursues unexpected avenues. The film should have had the grandeur of a Syrianna or the energy of Body of Lies. It seems each sequence starts to get exciting and then just ends. Also, a lot of the character motivations don’t make much sense. If the government asset has ceased contact, it seemed pretty easy to talk to her surreptitiously. Why has someone of Miller’s skills been hired in the first place? The ingredients were in the oven, but there weren’t enough, and then only half-baked.