The Veteran Review

The Veteran film still

Score

Toby Kebbell tries his hardest, but his committed performance as a British Bickle can’t save this uninspired blend of Taxi Driver, Harry Brown and Jason Bourne.

Toby Kebbell tries his hardest, but his committed performance as a British Bickle can’t save this uninspired blend of Taxi Driver, Harry Brown and Jason Bourne.

Arriving home from a traumatic tour of Afghanistan, Kebbell’s Miller is dismayed to find his South London estate overrun by drug gangs. Shortly after reconnecting with his somewhat more virtuous black buddy (which means the film can’t possibly be accused of, you know, racism) Miller is recruited by a secret government agency to monitor homegrown terror cells.

Brian Cox heads up this operation, phoning in a performance of such drawled condescension that it telegraphs his wrong ‘un status from square one, leaving you only able to ponder the recruitment policy of any agency so keen on hiring somebody with the biggest dose of PTSD since Alex Reid emerged from Jordan’s clutches.

Sure enough, Kebbell uncovers the usual conspiracy that goes right to the heart of government, taking in a veritable alphabet soup of clumsily deployed acronyms and, of course, burly blokes in black jeeps. By the time it’s suggested that the very gangs that have polluted his home might have a hand in this larger nonsense, your jaw will be dropping at the sheer implausibility of it all – and that’s before Kebbell brings the war home in a final shootout that further stretches credulity to breaking point.

On the plus side, DP Philipp Blaubach (who impressed with his work on The Disappearance of Alice Creed) makes Elephant and Castle by turns post-apocalyptic and grimly beautiful – a standout rooftop scene somehow makes south of the river look like 2019 Los Angeles – and half-remembered radio traffic infuses an immersive sound design that’s oddly reminiscent of The Shining.

Best of all, Kebbell finally delivers on the tons of promise he’s shown, nimbly boshing his way out of a few sticky situations with an intensity not many young British actors could replicate. That said, his voice is too pristine to convince as a former para – how many elite trained killers have you met with smooth, boyish tones that wouldn’t disgrace a boy band?

But these positives only add to the frustration. For all its bracingly staged action, The Veteran’s clumsy grasp of international politics, irresponsible paranoia-mongering and ludicrous conflation of the war in Afghanistan with the battlegrounds of South London leave a sour taste in the mouth.

Anticipation

Kebbell’s a rising star, and it’s not a bad pitch for some unpretentious thrills.

3

Enjoyment

Okay, this is just getting silly.

2

In Retrospect

Clichéd, incoherent and queasily Daily Mail-pleasing, its conspiracy theorising third act is a disaster.

2
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View 3 comments

AJP

3 years ago
Haven't seen the movie but the plot most definitely interests me. If by 'irresponsible paranoia-mongering and ludicrous conflation of the war in Afghanistan with the battlegrounds of South London ' you are inferring that the security services haven't actively encouraged and profitted massively from the drug wars you are either ludicrously naive or irrationally stupid. May I remind you of the opium wars of the nineteenth century (HSBC alongside the east india company was largely founded on illicit drug money). May I also remind you of the iran contra affair and oliver North, Air America, the deliberate drug destruction of black inner citiy communities (perhaps you should watch more Soderbergh particularly the limey). May I also remind you the taliban banned the cultivation of opium yet since the British and Americans have been in Afghanistan the cultivation has risen year on year with the approval of her Majesty's government. Even Fox news (obviously not the BBC - far too compliant) has covered the fact that the US army allows the cultivation and distribution without hindrence. Over and out.

Carl T

2 years ago
A well made and realistic movie. people aren't invincible and he acted how I would imagine a trained soldier would act. I hate super hero movies don't like extreme people in ordinary situations i like ordinary people in extreme situations and this was it. It had something US movies just can't seem to grasp. if you have enjoyed animal kingdom or rise of the foot soldier you should probably come away from this with a hope that writers and directors should take part in movie making not just the special effects guys and the over paid superstars.
Go crew of the Veteren you made a good movie here. hats off to you all.

folgercite

2 years ago
I just saw this movie and the reviewer is right on. The acting and the action is good, but the plot is ludicrous. Tying some small-time hoods who operate out an abandoned and half-demolished building, with British Intelligence, the CIA and Al-Qaeda, not to mention the improbability of a former paratrooper's "buddy" whose half-brother happens to be a counterterrorism recruiter for British Intelligence---handing the job to our hero over drinks at the pub, is asking for it. Also, despite our hero being "made" by the Chechen bodyguards, when he gets away, he still shows up 3-5 times in plain sight of his targets (the woman), whose motivation to meet him is highly suspect anyway. And the ending was just sad and depressing, sorry. Brit flicks. What can you say?
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