Tiger Raid

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Brian Gleeson as Joe in Tiger Raid
"Tiger Raid is great."

A tense, terse two-hander, Tiger Raid is a film of a different stripe, intermittently meditative, visceral, crude, poetic, consistently bleak and beautiful, like a Romantic heath. It prowls without relent to a conclusion that is provocative, satisfying.

The opening, blue of desert sky, blue of desert sand, blue of night, eventually blue of language, is gorgeous. Silent Light's slow sunrise opening is stronger but that is a static, stately thing, not the scruffy scramble of a battered truck across bandit country. Bandit country not because the hills are full of them, but because the truck is - a two and a half ton embassy of the outlaw industrial complex, a pair of eye-blacked scruff-suited negotiable-combatants, a two-two and a two-four, a Joe and a Paddy, bound on a mission for an invisible Dave, ill tempered envoys of a trade where terms like "private military contractor" or "warfighter" seem on the other side of a cliff of respectability, across a minefield of euphemism.

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They are on a mission, a foul-mouthed component of a larger plan, camo-clad cogs in a covert operation. One that will erupt into violence but starts in reminiscence, the tyres chewing the miles, the men chewing the fat.

Brian Gleeson, Joe, Damien Molony, Paddy, lost beneath sweat and grime and earpieces and moral compromise and misadventure. There are others riding with them, ghosts of their past - among them Sofia Boutella, Rory Fleck-Byrne, each in roles of similar efficiency to the primary pair, each adding flesh to the incorporeal memories of Paddy, Joe.

Based on Mick Donnellan's play 'Radio Luxembourg', which might actually feature a tiger, an astonishing debut feature also for co-writers Gareth Coulam Evans and Simon Dixon (also director), Tiger Raid is great. At times some of its history bleeds through; there is at times a staginess in blocking and costume that recalls the footlight-flavoured fascism of McKellen's Richard III, but in other places there are things that only film can do - the gods take the horizon, no arch obscures the stars, and in one moment of closed circuit television it is really only the camera that can contribute the right kind of concealment. Dean Valentine's compositions add to the textures of sand and grime and desperation that so inflect the film. Dense, literary, open to interpretation, its two protagonists orbiting each other and themselves in a symmetry less fearful than fractal, this is brilliant stuff, bright-burning talent to see.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2016
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Tiger Raid packshot
Two mercenaries in Iraq speed through the dead of night, on their way to execute a covert mission.

Director: Simon Dixon

Writer: Simon Dixon, Mick Donnellan, Gareth Coulam Evans

Starring: Sofia Boutella, Brian Gleeson, Damien Molony, Rory Fleck-Byrne

Year: 2016

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: UK, Ireland

Festivals:

Tribeca 2016
EIFF 2016

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