ROUTE IRISH (eOne, 2010) D: Ken Loach, w/ Mark Womack, Andrea Lowe. Rating: NNNN; Blu-ray package: none Rating: NNNN
Route Irish is the name soldiers have given to the road between the Baghdad airport and the city itself. They say it's the most dangerous road on earth. In 2007 a contractor - the term for a private security soldier - is killed by a roadside bomb.
Back home in Liverpool, Fergus, the dead man's buddy and a veteran contractor, thinks the death doesn't add up, so he investigates.
Thriller fans will guess where this is going, but not how it plays out. Director Ken Loach, known for his bleak studies of working-class life, repurposes thriller conventions to paint a striking portrait of a devastated man, a close-up look at the horrors of war and a howl at the criminal stupidity of privatizing it.
Loach gives the Baghdad bodies and combat a documentary realism, and uses the same techniques to emphasize Fergus's isolation and inner agony. Mark Womack, as Fergus, and Andrea Lowe, his buddy's wife, both give strong performances.
Extras on factual background would be welcome here. Google Blackwater to find your own.
EXTRAS English, French audio. No subtitles.