Reviewed by: James Gracey

‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.’

MI6 pen pusher Alex Morgan (Simon Lenagan) inadvertently discovers deliberate discrepancies in the evidence being compiled to justify the US/UK invasion of Iraq. He soon finds his life is in danger as it becomes increasingly evident that there are those who would have him ‘silenced’ rather than let him expose sinister corruptions within the government.

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The various agendas and reasons presented by the US and UK for declaring war on Iraq have been under constant scrutiny since they were first made public. One of the main justifications was to find and confiscate weapons of mass destruction. However, as we now know, no ‘WMDs’ were ever found. Writer/director David Holroyd’s feature debut takes the concept that evidence has been knowingly tampered with to justify war and uses it to wring out a suspenseful and thoroughly modern 21st Century thriller.

The thrust of the narrative is carried along by an ever-mounting sense of urgency conveyed through intrusive and creepy camera work. A caption reveals that what we are about to view is footage that has been retrieved and compiled from security cameras, CCTV footage and hidden cameras to tell Alex’s story. Much has been made about the UK’s ‘Nanny State’ reputation and the worrying numbers of CCTV cameras that now pepper the high streets of every city in the country. In this current climate, the approach Holroyd has utilised to scrutinise his protagonist’s every move, is thoroughly ominous, yet almost entirely believable, lending the film a very realistic and edgy feel. Actual news footage and speeches from various government leaders are also seamlessly slotted into the narrative to lend it gravitas and consistently blur the fine line between reality and fiction.

Holroyd carefully sidesteps any sort of typical ‘shady government conspiracy-theory thriller’ clichés with a low-key approach, believable characters and downright mundane realism as we follow Alex through a series of secret meetings in London, Rome and Washington. He takes our worst fears and doubts about the legality of the war and plays them out against a backdrop of quiet espionage and mounting paranoia. Events become ever more sinister and, the deeper Alex delves into his shadowy discovery, the higher the tension mounts. Here is an ordinary man dealing with a situation that renders him perpetually out of his depth.

It might seem that with the entire film shot as though it was captured on hidden cameras and on CCTV etc, it might prove frustrating to watch. Not so. Editor Celia Haining weaves the ‘footage’ together effortlessly to create a compelling story that, while at times challenging, is still immensely engrossing.

An intense, provocative and deeply upsetting film.

Reviewed on: 16 Nov 2009
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The heat is on for a pen-pusher who discovers deliberate discrepancies in a dossier being used to justify an invasion of Iraq.
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Director: David Holroyd

Writer: David Holroyd

Starring: Simon Lenagan, Robert Cambrinus, Glenn Conroy, Emily Denniston

Year: 2009

Runtime: 113 minutes

Country: UK


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