Home Video Hovel- The Veteran, by Chase Beck
The Veteran is directed by Matthew Hope in a very deliberate, careful manner. There are few quick cuts and no shaky camera effects to punch-up the action. It is a welcome change from the chaotic nature of most modern action films. However, it this style of filming left me feeling detached from the story, in much the same way that the main character seems to be emotionally detached from the world around him. Throughout the length of the film, Miller (played by Toby Kebbell) manages to keep his emotions in check through, what can only be, the assertion of tremendous mental fortitude.
The premise for the film is quite simple, a soldier returns home to London from serving in Afghanistan. While attempting to reintegrate into society he continues to experience flashbacks of the time he spent serving his country. We get the impression that Miller regularly relives the events that happened to him. However, rather than seek the help of a doctor or check himself into a hospital, he has a few bouts of wall punching and occasionally spends the nights staring at the ceiling. All in all, it doesn’t make PTSD look too terrible.
Miller quickly learns that there is no room in civilized society for someone with his skills for breaching doors and room clearing. While mulling over an offer from the local drug lord to train youths how to be “little soldiers”, Miller meets Chris Turner (Tony Curran) and Gerry (Brian Cox in a small but significant role), two men willing to employ him to track down Islamic terrorist cells in London. It is a job that Miller excels at. We might even get the impression that he was enjoying himself, were it not for Kebbell’s perpetually stone-faced expression.
The music, sparse and generally atonal, is used to great effect to create suspense. Much of this movie brought to mind Mamet’s Spartan. Others have compared the tone of the film to Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Although for me, the location brought to mind Harry Brown and Attack The Block. However, the young drug dealers are depicted as faceless disposable thugs. I’m reluctant to spoil the big reveal of the film but I will say that it reminded me of Nolan’s Batman Begins but is entirely out of place in this film.
The last few minutes of The Veteran feature a man systematically shooting his way through a run-down, London housing estate, taking revenge on the local gang holed-up there. It is an impressive display of military tactics faced-off against gang warfare occurring in a familiar urban backdrop. It’s probably the best scene in the film and is well worth the wait. Fans of military training and infiltration tactics will certainly enjoy it. Unlike most film depictions of firefights it is violent but not chaotic. There are no explosions, no screaming, just bullets flying back and forth between combatants. You generally don’t expect to see this kind of open gunplay in today’s London, regardless of the location or people involved. The gangsters are surprisingly well armed, perhaps unrealistically so. Miller calmly wades in, double-tapping his way through it all with a military grade assault rifle.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment is the almost non-existent DVD extras. You have the option of subtitles and no subtitles which can be displayed at the bottom of the screen or at the top of the screen. In addition to the film, you have the option of viewing the film’s trailer. That’s it. All in all, I would have liked to have seen more features. But, it certainly fits with the minimalist style of the film. The movie is better than I was expecting. It is competently shot and well lit, while still managing to retain a very natural feel to the scenes and the action. There are a few fun action sequences and some nice touches of suspense as well.