War Book

war_bookIf you’re a regular here you should be aware of the legend that is (birthday boy) Ryan Fleming. As well as being a key member of Moody’s Survivors, he’s also a film director (WELCOME TO ESSEX), an intrepid reporter and zombie-experience survivor, and was a featured corpse in AUTUMN: AFTERMATH.

Ryan’s also an avid collector and watcher of post-apocalyptic movies and has given me plenty of great suggestions over the years. He mentioned another movie recently – WAR BOOK – and I’m really pleased he did. It’s a gripping BBC movie which is small in focus (it takes place largely in one room with a cast of ten), but large in scope.

It was recently shown on the BBC – UK viewers, you can still catch the film on iPlayer until around 6 September.

The premise is deceptively simple: a group of civil servants are shut in a room to practice their response and decisions to a rapidly escalating international crisis, triggered when Mumbai is hit with a nuclear weapon.

Here’s the trailer. Click the link for my thoughts.

WAR BOOK transcends its confined setting to tell a frighteningly plausible story. Films like this remind us that, no matter what the size or source of problem we face, the outcome almost always rests on the actions and interactions of people. When our backs are up against the wall (as they inevitably will be at some point), will we be able to put aside our petty differences, preconceptions and personal beliefs for the sake of the common good? Is there even such a thing as the common good anymore?

Performances by the whole cast here are strong, but I’ll admit to having reservations as the film began. Some of the characters felt a little forced, particularly the public schooled-minister who was clearly bred for politics with little care or appreciation of the impact his decisions would have on hundreds of thousands of people. He felt like a discarded character from BBC’s THE THICK OF IT. And yet, as the movie developed, each character made sense. Slightly caricatured without being cartoonish, each of them effectively represented a different swathe of society.

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This is the kind of film which won’t appeal to everyone, but it appealed to me. I write about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations, and that’s what you have here on two levels. Firstly, as players in the war game exercise itself, the characters are forced to make huge decisions with incalculable consequences (and it’s sobering to think that individuals will have to make similar decisions at some point, particularly when you look at the individuals concerned…). Secondly, as people with their own lives and families and problems and conflicts, they struggle to have to put all that to one side and accept that there are more important things to consider than everything they hold dear, than everything and everyone that matters to them.

WAR BOOK reminds us that, ultimately, we’re at the mercy of the personalities we elect to represent us. And in today’s political environment, that’s a bloody terrifying thought.

I recommend this movie without hesitation. Strong work by the entire cast, and also by director Tom Harper and writer Jack Thorne. The film hasn’t been widely distributed as yet, but as I said at the beginning, UK folks can watch it on iPlayer for the next couple of weeks. Please do.

For release updates etc. follow @Warbookfilm

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