England is teeming with terrorists, druggies and violent council estates where evil is seated on a throne fashioned out of sports hoodies. If recent British cinema has taught us anything (see Harry Brown and Heartless among many others), it’s that nowhere is safe. With The Veteran, we can add Post-Traumatic Stress-suffering war vets to that list of dangerous British ill-doers.
Set in a recognisably mucked-up, breeze-block crammed London, The Veteran follows Robert Miller (Toby Kebbell), a young soldier who returns from Afghanistan and soon realises that it won’t be as simple as all that to ease back into his old life. The battered council estate where he lives is infested with druggie yoofs, and before long Miller’s been contracted by Brian Cox’s mysterious government figure to monitor suspected terrorists. But could nation-straddling fellow operative Alayna (Adi Bielski) have turned into a terrorist sympathiser?
Cautionary tale, social commentary, bleak character study; The Veteran has its gun barrel aimed at all kinds of red letter targets, but it never quite hits the bull’s eye. The same can even be said for magnetic lead man Kebbell, whose Miller is an interesting character desperately searching for a plot. Kebbell (RockNRolla, Prince Of Persi) is undeniably enigmatic, a man’s man with soulful eyes, but his episodic encounters with dealers, victims and shady government types lack much discernable tension, and are crying out for a more urgent sense of direction.
Veteran’s final 10 minutes are the ones that will cause a stir in the headlines (we won’t spoil them here, though the Daily Mail are going to have a field day), but considering the whole film not-so-subtly builds up to them, their power is decidedly muted. Kebbell’s a young actor going places, for sure. Unfortunately this home-grown cautionary-character-commentary just isn’t ballsy enough to take him all the way. 2/5
Via Out In The City