I AM SOLDIER

2.5 out of 10

Release Date: 17th March 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Ronnie Thompson (Tower Block)

Cast: Tom Hughes, George Russo, Alex Reid, Noel Clarke, Josh Myers, Ian Pirie, Lee Charles, Joe Egan and Miranda Raison

Writer: Ronnie Thompson

Trailer: I AM SOLDIER

imagesTo Be Proofread: I Am Soldier is a very incompetent dramatised version of a British Army recruitment video. Think of a British version of Acts of Valour, mix it with those army ads you see at the cinema and add a dash of Brookside you’re about there. Near the end you can also expect to have a side order of a filmed Quasar session too. Hanging it’s beret on the rites of passage hook, even the least seasoned film viewer will know the drill. In fact so slavish to the template is I Am Soldier it lays cliches to waster left right and centre. It wants to be Top Gun but this low budget pretender is less thrilling or informative as watching kids play with action men toys in the back yard.

Ex-Army chef Mickey (TOM HUGHES – 8 MINUTES IDLE) begins the arduous course to become an SAS soldier. On his quest he’s joined by his wing-man (who’s character arc echoes Top Gun’s Goose a little too closely for comfort) JJ (GEORGE RUSSO – TONY) to get into the world’s elite fighting force. Instructors Carter (NOEL CLARKE – STAR TREK 2) and Dawn (ALEX REID – THE DESCENT) make it hard for them but you know deep down that their ‘alright people, really’. Periodically a bank of text will pop up to inform us what the exercise our heroes are embarking on involves. Whether or not they both pass is not up for debate and then the whole film culminates in Mickey completing his first ‘live’ mission and freeze frame declaring I AM SOLDIER in giant, jubilant typeface.

Director Ronnie Thompson co-directed Tower Block with James Nunn (GREEN STREET 3). This is his first solo effort. He’s fared less well than his old partner in crime although Green Street 3 has it’s own crimes to answer for.  Admittedly, Thompson has tried to make an alternative lads film that tries something different form the countless thug movies around. That’s the only positive point that I can muster.  So clunky and obvious is every single beat of the story that you could probably tell me what was going to happen, who was going to fail the course, who was going to die, who was going to get their knickers off etc. It was just too safe and dull too recommend. Tom Hughes may have looked the part but he’s a personality void in this flick. Flashbacks to a skydiving accident don’t really register and seem there as an empty swipe at characterisation. Noel Clarke is OK but has nothing to add. A shame because he looked like he was finally on his way after his minor but important role in Star Trek 2. The film throws away any good will a less discerning viewer may have had with a really poorly staged ambush sequence that stands in for Mickey’s first real mission. If these guys are SAS they don’t look or act like it. The resulting skirmish is just a bunch of badly co-ordinated soldiers shooting randomly at some fat guys in 80s clothing. It has all the involvement of watching a game of Quasar on one of the monitors in the foyer.  I had previously singled out Mercenaries for having the least convincing bunch of soldiers in. At least we know where they got trained now as these guys suck.

2.5 out of 10 – Poorly mounted recruitment film that fails on dramatic and technical levels. It’s a lame rush job. I’ve dunked better soldiers in my breakfast egg. Who Dares Wins? Here, everybody loses.

Review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “I AM SOLDIER

  1. I AM SOLDIER – review by Joe Pesci aka Matt Usher

    What has the SAS ever done to deserve this? Not just I AM SOLDIER but the whole sorry subgenre of SAS films. AGE OF HEROES was a passable but slight origins story, HE WHO DARES is a disgrace to cinema, and even the 80s ‘classic’ WHO DARES WINS isn’t great. And now we have I AM SOLDIER, which probably should have been a hard-hitting docu-drama, but ends up playing like a bad training video.

    Ronnie Thompson is our writer/director, so it’s all his fault. He seems to be very interested in the behaviour of men in various sorts of institutions; his other credits include stupid hooligan film GREEN STREET 3 and SCREWED, a (very) flawed but largely successful prison movie. Sadly, he doesn’t actually have anything to say about men in institutions other than you’ve got to be ‘ard to survive.

    The film opens with our hero, Mickey, blindfolded, tied up and hanging from a ceiling. He then undergoes some interrogation from a shouty Scottish man and gets knocked about a bit. What has our hero done to deserve this? The film is then told in flashback so we can find out. The short answer is: nothing. He’s an army chef (though that turns out to be a fib) who fancies joining the SAS. So we meet him on a train where he meets his future best friend (who is doomed to sacrifice himself saving the hero’s life, obviously). The film then ambles along as we watch them undergoing all sorts of very difficult tests and training, like in The Krypton Factor.

    Every now and again the screen goes black and we get captions telling us how difficult it is to be an SAS person. And then we watch our hero and his doomed bestest pal as they complete another bit of training. But then SPOILER ALERT! they are subjected to the psychological test. This is where they get beaten up and tortured for a bit, and we’re back at the start of the film. So that’s all a bit of a con, and a not particularly exciting or interesting one either. Meanwhile Mickey keeps having flashbacks to a Very Bad Thing, which is never quite explained but it looks like he accidentally threw someone out of a plane or something like that. Fortunately his commanding officer knows about that and helps him confront his demons by, well, throwing him out of a plane. This seems to help.

    The film is incredibly badly balanced. The interrogation of Private Mickey goes on forever and it’s clearly meant to be hugely significant in some way, but when it just turns out to be a test (which our hero passes with flying colours) you wonder if it might turn out to be significant later on. It isn’t. A better film-maker might have looked into the effects of this test, perhaps on those who don’t pass it – what sort of damage might it do? But this isn’t a film about losers, it’s about winners (as he who dares wins and all that cobblers). So our hero just goes on to the next bit of training.

    The final test is very funny – the surviving applicants have to put the SAS cap on to see if it fits. Surely it would have been sensible to start with this test? They’d have saved themselves a lot of time and money. Never mind, who am I to question the protocols of the best of the best?

    But are they the best of the best? Having dragged the training segment out forever, suddenly our hero is plunged into a real-life combat situation. There are some fat foreigners running around a warehouse with a bomb and only the best of the best can stop them, which they do, but (SPOILER!) best friend gets himself blown up. Never mind. The film then ends with our hero saving the day, and the title of the film is splattered onto the screen, looking more like a KILL! caption on a computer game. And this is perhaps the worst bit of this dull film. The SAS may be the best of the best (I’m not arguing) but surely their soldiers have a better grasp of grammar? This should have been called I AM A SOLDIER.

    George Russo is the pick of the bunch as the luckless best pal, whilst Tom Huhghes is a charisma vacuum as our hero. Noel Clarke growls menacingly to little effect, whilst Alex Reid (the good but usually under-used actress not the cage-fighting transvestite) is given the least interesting double-agent plot I’ve ever seen. It all looks mildly gritty and grim, but there’s never any sense of urgency (they even resort at one point to an on-screen countdown) and maybe an even more accurate title might be I AM BORED.

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