Director: KEN LOACH

109 minutes| U.K.-France-Italy-Belgium-Spain| 2010| Colour| D-Cinema

Ken Loach tackles the ugly legacy of the Iraq war in this trenchant, angry conspiracy thriller. ‘Route Irish’ is the death-trap highway connecting Baghdad airport with the US-held Green Zone in the city centre, and the coffin carrying its latest victim, a British ex-soldier employed by a private security firm, has just arrived home in Liverpool. Fergus (Mark Womack), the dead man’s best mate, is sceptical about the story surrounding the latter’s demise and, as a former security operative, is well positioned to start uncovering the truth. Screenwriter Paul Laverty, Loach’s regular collaborator on The Wind that Shakes the Barley and My Name is Joe, pieces together a complex scenario built around sympathy for Iraqi casualties, understanding for the Brits lured into the murky world of the private contractors, and vitriol towards the profiteers getting rich on human misery. The action movie element (gun battles, explosions!) seems more Paul Greengrass than Ken Loach, but the film’s sobering analysis typifies its maker’s lucid commitment to justice. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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