siege-of-jadotville

There are action movies and there are dramatic period pieces. Very rarely do the two cross paths with entertaining results. Director Richie Smyth must have been waiting at the crossroads at just the right time with his film The Siege of Jadotville, because it hits both the marks right on.

Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan), a commandant in a volunteer Irish regimen for the United Nations, is sent to the Belgian Congo in 1961 to defend UN interests against French and Belgian mercenaries. He and his unseasoned troops find themselves in a gritty, desperate situation that only the courage of their convictions and stone cold bravery can get them out of.

Ireland has always been a neutral nation. Which is why the regiment was chosen in the first place. That being said, it is rather obvious to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the culture that they are a proud people, and never one to shy away from a fight (Fighting Irish anyone?). The troops under Quinlans command were no exception. That is what the film is about, and at its core it is an action/adventure film with some very exciting battle scenes that demonstrate the unpredictability of war no matter what the scale.

The script by Kevin Brodbin and Declan Power (who wrote the novel) is on point. Some of the best dialog and honest character exchanges put to film that can be hoped for. The scene in the bar between Quinlan and the head of the French mercenaries is by itself worth the price of admission. And Jamie Dornan delivers a quietly stunning performance as the lead character. It is clear from his portrayal of Quinlan that the miserable Fifty Shades of Grey movie was not a flop due to him by any stretch of the imagination. Being Irish born doesn’t hurt either as the character he plays clearly puts love of country before anything else.

The action sequences are taught and on point. The only real drawback is the political subplot that sabotages the efforts of the brigade which falls flat and is uninspired. Especially compared to the inspired fierceness demonstrated by the troops when the mercenaries begin their attack.

This movie is engrossing and important. It brings attention to a part of history largely forgotten (the formation of the UN). Think of it as 300 meets Saving Private Ryan but on an Indie budget. It should not be missed.