Sunday 28 May 2017

Movies: Route Irish * * *

(16, General Release)

Mark Womack plays an ex-soldier on a mission
Mark Womack plays an ex-soldier on a mission

Paul Whitington

Ken Loach's political convictions are well known, and sometimes his earnest intentions can strangle the dramatic potential of his films. Route Irish is just such a case, and I suspect that Loach decided he wanted to make a film about private security operators in Iraq a long time before he settled down to write this script.

The title refers to a nickname US soldiers gave to the airport road in Baghdad, and Mark Womack plays a man who tries to find out what happened to his best friend Frankie on that treacherous stretch.

Fergus (Womack) is a hard-drinking former soldier and security operative whose Iraq experiences have scarred him for life. It was he who encouraged his best friend Frankie (John Bishop) to sign up to fight in Iraq, and when he's killed on Route Irish Fergus feels implicated.

He also, however, smells a rat, and Route Irish quickly turns into a conspiracy thriller as Fergus, and Frankie's girlfriend Rachel (Andrea Lowe), try to get at the truth.

It's pretty absorbing for the most part, and very well acted overall, but too much awkward exposition punctures the story, and the shrill insistence of Loach's subtext makes the film seem one-dimensional.

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