Directed by Simon Dixon
Starring Brian Gleeson, Damian Molony, Sofia Boutella
Release 7th October 2016
After the Daniel Radcliffe Fortnight, this week we have a pair of double acts. First came Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena as two dodgy ‘n’ destructive cops in War On Everyone. Now it’s the turn of another duo of equally foul mouthed renegades, this time Brian Gleeson and Damian Molony in Tiger Raid.
The story gives us the bare minimum, so we’re left to fill in the gaps and even make up the occasional detail. Two Irish mercenaries are travelling through a Middle Eastern country in a military vehicle. With its deserted cities and checkpoints, the country has been ravaged by war and is clearly still going through it. The pair eventually break into an affluent looking house and kidnap the young woman living there. It emerges that, for one of them, she’s a face from the past and, although they believe their orders are to kill her, it turns out to be harder than it sounds.
For the first half of the film we have only the two mercenaries for company, with their black eye make-up taking the place of masks. Joe (Gleeson) is full of stories, some of which are obviously made up, some are for real and others ….. well, you’re just not sure. And nor is Paddy (Molony) at the start. They also seem to be keeping secrets from each other: at one point early on Paddy appears to be taking orders through his ear piece to kill Joe, but he doesn’t pull the trigger. His reasons are never totally clear, especially as they’re both working for the same person. Somebody called Dave. We never see him, never hear him, but his presence is constant and their attitudes towards him completely different. Joe is fiercely loyal and expects Paddy to be the same, but he’s not – well, not when it comes to Dave. He believes Joe’s loyalty won’t be rewarded, that he’s being taken for a fool. With so much talk about their invisible boss, it’s a bit like Waiting For Dave.
What’s their mission? We know it’ll earn them $50,000. It may be a kidnapping, or more likely a robbery, given the name of the film, but we don’t know for sure. Nor do we know who’s on the other end of their earpieces, giving the orders. Presumably, more people working for Dave, but why they are giving each of the two men different instructions is never explained.
Don’t be misled into thinking this is an action movie. There’s a certain amount of shooting – one neat moment when a security guard is watching Joe on his screen, only for Paddy to shoot him in the head from behind, spattering the monitor with blood – and a certain amount of tension, but it’s not really an action movie or a thriller. If anything, it’s more of a shout fest in the desert. The banter at the start, blackly entertaining though it is, is replaced by something a lot darker, with Joe frequently ranting at Paddy about loyalty and why he should kill the woman.
That’s all about the narrative. But what’s it really about? Loyalty, perhaps, because that pops up regularly. Survival. Or maybe the way soldiers are always at the beck and call of their officers – often faceless and never there. Just like the storyline itself, it’s never clear, so what you end up with is the two men shouting at each other a lot, occasionally fighting and that’s about it.
It’s quite possible that I’m guilty of not concentrating enough on the film, which might be why I found it so very vague and generally unsatisfactory. But if I wasn’t paying enough attention, there’s a reason why. The film simply wasn’t strong enough to hold my imagination and just ended up getting lost in the desert.
Tiger Raid is released on Friday, 7 October and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 6 October.