Route Irish (15)

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The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/03/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Emotionally engaging and superbly acted, this is a gripping, powerfully relevant and impressively directed British thriller that unfolds like a disturbingly dark detective story.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ken Loach, Route Irish (a nickname for a deadly stretch of road between Baghdad airport and Iraq's Green Zone) is written by Paul Laverty and stars Mark Womack as Fergus, a hot-headed ex-SAS soldier who's devastated by the death of his best friend Frankie (John Bishop), who came to Iraq to work alongside Fergus for a private contractor. Unable to shake the feeling that something's not quite right with the official story, Fergus investigates and uncovers evidence that suggests Frankie might have been deliberately murdered.

However, Fergus is unaware that the private companies behind the conspiracy will stop at nothing to get what they want and they soon bring in an enforcer (Trevor Williams) to retrieve the video evidence by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Fergus also finds himself falling for Frankie's widow Rachel (Andrea Lowe) and persuades her to help him as more evidence comes to light.

The Good
Womack is superb as Fergus, playing the role with a fierce intensity that works well, to the point that you eventually start to worry about him (his subtly sketched backstory hints at a previous problem with violence). There's also strong support from Andrea Lowe (even if their romance doesn't quite ring true) and comedian John Bishop delivers an impressively charismatic turn that immediately tells us everything we need to know about Frankie and his relationship with Fergus.

The Great
Laverty's superbly written script adds an intriguingly dark twist to the standard detective story structure, since the film starts out as a traditional investigative thriller and ends up becoming something much more disturbing. Loach handles these subtle shifts in tone well and also orchestrates some genuinely shocking scenes that present the audience with unexpectedly complex emotional reactions.

Worth seeing?
Route Irish is a superbly directed British thriller that bristles with barely contained rage and delivers a powerful emotional punch. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 30/10/2012 02:03

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