Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Robert Miller (Tony Kebbell Ė who was great in this by the way) has just returned from Afghanistan, and while we are never told exactly went down in Afghanistan, at least in relation to Miller, it looks like it was pretty bad.  Now heís back home at his flat in London, and as this movie ĎThe Veteraní plays itself out, Afghanistan couldnít have been all that bad by comparison. 

Millerís old neighborhood wasnít all that great to begin with, but now that heís back itís completely gone to shite as heís already had a gun pulled on him by a twelve year old.  Thereís a drug dealer, typically named Tyrone (Ashley Bashy Thomas), who has turned the old hood into a veritable Wal-Mart of illegal narcotics, and most of the young people are his loyal employees.  Tyrone pulls Miller to the side, lets him know quite elegantly that heís only doing what the government wants him do, and that he should join up.  Youíre with him or youíre against him.  Miller politely declines.

On the other side of town Miller has been contacted by Chris Turner (Billy Curran) and Mr. Gerry (Brian Cox), a couple mysterious government agents who could use Millerís impressive military skills to help flesh out some potential terrorist cells that are planning to do something just awful in the home town.  This is more up Millerís alley as he works with Turnerís brother and his top mate Danny (Tom Brooke) to trail and gather info on a couple of suspicious looking Middle Eastern cats.  Also in play is Turnerís contact on the inside, Alyana Wallace (Adi Bielski) who has gone dark for the last couple of months and needs to be brought in so whatever information she has can be retrieved.

The intrigue starts to get much deeper and a little confusing as there are people who donít want Miller to succeed in whatever it is heís doing as he finds his life is being placed in danger on more than one occasion.  And while Millerís secret agent mission is getting muddled by the minute, the situation in his old neighborhood is also about explode.  More surprising is that somehow the two are linked together, and not in any kind of positive way.  Miller has questions that need answers.  The answers also will not be all that positive.

Gritty, tough, hard hitting and highlighted by an impressive performance from Tony Kebbell, not to mention one the best short soliloquyís youíll ever want to hear from Brian Cox, Matthew Hopeís ĎThe Veteraní has a lot going for it.  Kebbell inhabits the character of Robert Miller completelyÖ confused, loyal, dangerous, delusionalÖ but desperate to do the right thing.  We tagalong with Miller as a detached observer on his adventure, never completely sure of what this adventure of his completely entails, but then Iím fairly convinced that Miller isnít completely sure what his mission is supposed to be either. 

Admittedly, the movie did serve up a lot of confusion for me, as we went deeper into the rabbit hole, the players and these playersí motivations became murkier and murkier.  Brian Coxís character of Gerry did go a long towards clearing up a lot of whatever it was that was going on with his closing speech, but it didnít completely clear up who a lot of what these side characters were and what their relationships were to movie we were watching. 

Thatís all good and fine though, itís not like we need to have every semblance of a plot laid out for us and it did fit in the vein that the overall theme of the film which was one based on confusion and misdirection.  However the final scenes, the scenes when Miller decided to go back the Ďhood and handle some personal business, that was something right out of Castle Wolfenstein.  I donít mind crazy, over the top, first person shooter style action, complete with power ups, itís just that in this movie it just didnít fit all that well.  Truthfully it doesnít fit in almost any movie, but certainly not this movie which was built upon gritty realism and sleight of hand.  Even though nobody really likes open ended conclusions in movies like these, but if the filmmakers had just shown us Miller appearing at the projects, ready to go, and then ended it thereÖ Iím thinking that mightíve been an ending more in line with what we all just saw.

ĎThe Veteraní, with the fantastic performance laid out by Tony Kebbell and trusty Brian Cox who canít go wrong even if he tried to, was 90% of a gritty political thriller, and 10% of something else altogether.  And Iím thinking itís that ten percent that keeps a good movie from being a great movie.

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