6 out of 10
Release Date: 29th April 2011
Director: Matthew Hope
Cast: Toby Kebbell, Adi Bielski, Tony Curran, Tom Brooke, Ivanno Jeremiah, Eboseta Ayemere with Ashley Thomas and Brian Cox
Writer: Matthew Hope
Trailer: THE VETERAN
Toby Kebbell is the ever up-and-coming next best thing in actor land. The Veteran is the first real opportunity he’s had to show off his considerable talent in a lead role. It’s a curious choice as the plot tries to be all things to all men but just about pulls it off. The trailer is very misleading in that audiences will be led to believe that this is a Harry Brown-style vigilante flick in which a loner takes out the trash in his neighbourhood. However, our hero’s motives are derived from a higher purpose.
Toby Kebbell plays Rob Miller, a former soldier who moves back to his South London flat to find that his estate is in the stranglehold of a gang led by Tyrone (ASHLEY THOMAS – MY BROTHER THE DEVIL), a dead eyed ghoul of a leader. Beyond the odd scrape though, Miller seems unfazed by their threats and cold stares from the windows of their sleak 4×4. He is promptly employed as a government spook instead by Tom Brooke (THE BOAT THAT ROCKED), Tony Curran (IN THE DARK HALF) and Brian Cox (IRONCLAD) to glean information on a dormant terror cell in the city. This is where the film draws comparison to the Sean Bean vehicle Cleanskin. Only the trail eventually draws him back close to home and he has to deal with untold betrayals from the top as he realises he is equally expendable at home as he was in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If this sounds like an exercise in Daily Mail type scaremongering, it probably is. It does, however, reward the patient with the fire fight seen in the trailer (and it’s a good ‘un), so unsure politicking aside this works on many levels. The performances are as good as you could expect from such a good cast. Toby Kebbell puts in a layered and committed performance, his character thoroughly devoted to his pursuit for truth. His friendship with a Muslim convert, Fahad (IVANNO JEREMIAH) who has lost his younger brother,Ryan (EBOSETA AYEMERE), to Tyrone’s gang is particularly interesting story thread. But The Veteran tries to be two different movies at the same time. It stretches from the high rises of Stockwell, right into the halls of MI-5 in its slim running time and its packed to the gills with plot. A pair of films about similar characters may have been better because ultimately the movie has a split personality; its international conspiracy thriller one minute, junior Harry Brown the next. Ashley Thomas almost steals the show in a much smaller role as Miller’s adversary. His cold delivery “So, you’re the real life Call Of Duty. I could use a man with your talents” truly nails it. Chilly. Someone help Ashley Thomas get some bigger roles.
6 out of 10 – A double whammy of different plots tear the film in two opposite directions. You get a vigilante killer flick and conspiracy government thriller the next. It’s like one of those old 30 minute episodes of The Bill, where two seemingly unrelated crimes are connected together tenuously by the denouement. Patient viewers are rewarded with a very cool gun battle near the end and the performances confirm that Toby Kebbell is the man to keep an eye on. Ditto for the under appreciated Ashley Thomas.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Toby Kebbell: The Fantastic Four (2015), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (mo-cap), The Counsellor, The East, Wrath Of The Titans, War Horse, The Conspirator, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Prince Of Persia, Cheri, Rock-N-Rolla, Control, Wilderness, Dead Man’s Shoes
- Tony Curran: Awaiting, Marvellous, Thor 2, In The Dark Half, Tintin (voice), X Men – First Class, Red Road, Underworld 2, The Good German, Ondine, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Blade 2, This Life (TV), Captives
- Tom Brooke: The Boat That Rocked
- Ashley Thomas: A Hundred Streets, My Brother The Devil, Cockney’s Vs. Zombies, The Man Inside (2012), Shank, 4-3-2-1
- Brian Cox: The Anomaly, Believe, Her (voice), Red 2, Blood (2013), The Campaign, Coriolanus, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Ironclad, Red, Fantastic Mr Fox (voice), The Escapist, The Water Horse, Zodiac, Red Eye, Match Point, The Bourne Supremacy, Troy, X Men 2, 25th Hour, Adaptation, The Ring, The Bourne Identity, Super Troopers, For The Love Of The Money, The Corruptor, Rushmore, Desperate Measures, The Boxer, Kiss The Girls, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Glimmer Man, Chain Reaction, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Iron Will, Hidden Agenda, Manhunter