This weeks Thursday movie chosen by Phil was The Siege of Jadotville, (2016) directed by Richie Smyth and based on the book of the same name by Declan Power. It is based on a true story about an Irish Army’s role in a UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in 1961. I didn’t know about this bit of history so it was an eyeopener for me.
In between his stints in the abysmal 50 Shades series of movies, Jamie Dornan plays Irish Army Commondant Pat Quinlan, who is put in charge of a unit of infantrymen, none of whom have combat experience, and are sent off for what ostensibly should be a peacekeeping mission but end up in a Rorkes Drift situation. The political situation is such that there’s a civil war going on brought about by the assassination of the Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba by Moise Tshombe (Danny Sapani) who leads the State of Katana. Katana is rich in minerals, and he secedes the State so he can profit from selling off the minerals to the French & Belgians, and sod the rest of the Congo. The united nations boss Dag Hammarskjöld (Mikael Persbrandt) sends Conor Cruise O’Brien, (Mark Strong) to head up the peacekeeping mission but privately warns him the situation in Katana could herald the start of WW3 and orders him to take offensive action. Quinlan, with his Sergeant, Jack Prendergast (Jason O’Mara) ends up having to defend his rather indefensable position with about 155 soldiers against 1000 plus French, Belgique and Katangese mercenary soldiers.
That’s it for spoilers sake, but I can heartily recommend this movie. Dornan does a much better job than I expected, Jason O’Mara embodies his character’s heroism, and Mark Strong is always a consummate actor. Richie directs the battle scenes with gusto and put the actors through Army Training prior to shooting so the scenes were realistic. Smyth stuck to the facts and didn’t introduce a love interest in the middle of it all or anything daft, and it didn’t do too bad with the critics.
In reality the Irish State didn’t give any recognition to the chaps who went through this, and none of them got any recognition in spite of Quinlan putting forward some of his men for Medals for Gallantry – this bit from wiki- The veterans of Jadotville were dissatisfied that the Defence Forces refused to acknowledge the battle and that there was an implied black mark on the reputation of their commander. Quinlan, who died in 1997, had his public reputation restored nine years after his death. The veterans of A Company reportedly regarded him as an exceptional officer who had saved the lives of his men by ordering them to dig in, and who successfully led his company against an overwhelming enemy force. He was forced into an impossible situation by the apparent failings of the UN leadership. Against the odds, he had saved the lives of each of his men in a battle not expected nor planned for.
It’s good that the movie did them proud.
On to my Saturday night choice, RocknRolla (2008) written and directed by Guy Ritchie. An action crime thriller with a good few laughs along the way.
Plenty of great British actors in this one, Gerard Butler (I know, not always great but he has his moments) Mark Strong (again!) Tom Hardy, Idris Elba and Thandie Newton to name a few.
The plot is a bit convoluted. Set in London, mob boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) rules an ever growing real estate business, and is in cahoots with the planning councillor (Jimi Mistry) his beaurocratic fixer. Archy (Mark Strong) is Lenny’s right hand man and dirty deeds fixer,and also narrates the movie. A billionaire Russian businessman, Uri Omovich (Karel Roden) is planning a big land deal, and has to go into business with Lenny to achieve his plans. Lenny charges him £7 million for the privelege. Thandie Newton as Stella is an accomplished accountant employed by Uri, but is also not averse to underhanded derring-do, and hires the Wild Bunch to steal the £7 million. Throw in a precious painting that Uri loans to Lenny and is consequently stolen by his supposedly dead junkie ex-rock star Johnny Quid, and there’s trouble at ‘mill as we say when in Yorkshire, which we’re not so forget that. I won’t do any more spoiling, suffice to say it’s a good romp, and Tom Hardy as a gay getaway driver is a hoot. Gemma Arterton has a bit part she makes the most of and Idris Elba does a grand job of being One-Two’s second-in-command. Not as slick as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch perhaps, but still full of style and swagger. Definitely worth a watch on a Fun Movie night!
Not many bad reviews, this from the indominatable Roger Ebert -“It never slows down enough to be really good, and never speeds up enough to be the Bourne Mortgage Crisis, but there’s one thing for sure: British actors love playing gangsters as much as American actors love playing cowboys, and it’s always nice to see people having fun.”