Tiger Raid

Jul 5, 2016 | Posted by in 2016, EIFF
EIFF 2016

Based on the stage play, Radio Luxembourg by Mick Donnellan; Simon Dixon’s Tiger Raid follows two mercenaries in an unspecified Middle Eastern location on a morally questionable mission.

The important thing here isn’t the details of the plot. They are kept really ambiguous. I assume the reason for this is to not have the film tied to anything specific when people try to analyse it as a piece of topical fiction. The vague details do a good job of allowing the setting to feel real and current while keeping a somewhat timeless quality to it.

Everything here is focused on the relationship between the two central characters. Paddy (Damien Molony) and Joe (Brian Gleeson) really come to life in their interactions. Everything about the dialogue between these two characters feels very real which is down to a superb script full of conversational language as well as the performance of the two actors. It’s hard to single out either of them as being the best of the two as it’s very much a two character drama with each of them delivering a really impressive performance.

Tiger RaidThe conversations they have range from hilarious to sickening and can completely change at a moments notice. There’s an uncomfortable tension between them that also comes across really well and builds naturally through the film. Essentially these are two men that should never be put together and find themselves stuck together. Combine that with the heat along with the threat of death and you have a really volatile situation just waiting to get worse.

As you might expect the film is fairly light on plot but makes up for it with the fascinating character exchanges. There’s a sense that they have an objective but it is made clear that it will take a while to get to it so there’s nothing else for them to do but talk. Thankfully the dialogue is enough to keep things interesting.

The plot starts to kick in once they kidnap a woman named Shadha (Sofia Boutella) and the tension really starts to mount. They have different opinions on how brutally Shadha should be treated and the whole thing essentially boils down to a woman driving the two men apart. This isn’t in the traditional sense but she does represent a significant difference of opinion between them.

Sofia Boutella delivers a good performance despite having minimal dialogue and spending a good chunk of her screen time tied to a chair. She manages to project desperation as well as strength without much more than body language. When she does get to speak she does a really good job as well. Her character definitely feels more than an object for the plot to revolve around and she has a small arc of her own that definitely pays off.

The second half of the film is definitely the weakest as things don’t develop all that organically. I found the rising tension in the first half really effective but it gets to a point where it starts to feel rushed and things only tend to happen because the plot needs them to. Some more time spent establishing why things were heading in a certain direction would have worked a lot better.

Verdict

A well put together character piece with excellent performances from the actors involved. The dialogue is interesting and feels very realistic with all of the conversations being compelling. Sofia Boutella does a really good job despite having minimal dialogue and having to rely mostly on her body language to put her character across. The first half is a lot stronger than the second half but on the whole it’s a memorable viewing experience.

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