The Veteran

Movies, Drama
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The Veteran
A country fit for heroes? Back from military service in Afghanistan, Robert Miller (Toby Kebbell) finds it hard to adjust to being some bloke in a flat in Elephant & Castle. Soon the local druglord (Ashley Thomas) is interested in his services – but nobody else requires his particular skill-set, until shady British intelligence officers (Tony Curran, Brian Cox) persuade him to go the extra mile for the War on Terror, tracking a female contact (Adi Bielski, pictured) too closely integrated with the Islamist cell she’s infiltrated. All the while, however, feelings of alienation are mounting, as Miller questions just whose battle he’s really fighting.

For a low-budget British thriller, there’s a world of ambition on display in Matthew Hope’s second feature, which clearly channels the world-weary ’70s paranoia of ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘The Conversation’ through the imposingly clinical formal approach of process-fixated auteurs like Robert Bresson or Michael Haneke. Camerawork, editing and Mark Delany’s unsettling, swirling score combine to create a sense of genuine cinematic accomplishment from moment to moment, though it’s fair to say the film lacks the thematic substance to go with it. While there’s tension in Kebbell’s ongoing mission, the script’s theorising on conspiracies sits uneasily in standalone chunks, and there are too few surprises as events build towards a final reel where the ‘Taxi Driver’ influence takes over. Kebbell, though, is mesmerising, combining young De Niro’s brooding intensity with electric Stathamesque physicality, in a performance of taciturn concentration. Flawed but defiantly promising, it’s one to leave you reeling after British cinema’s bleakest finale since ‘Get Carter’.

By: Trevor Johnston

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Cast and crew

Director: Matthew Hope
Cast: Toby Kebbell
Brian Cox
Tony Curran