The Veteran: Cannes Review

Rousing British political thriller on terrorist activity. 

A British Afghan war veteran channels "Taxi Driver's" Travis Bickle in director Matthew Hope's rousing political thriller.

CANNES -- Taxi Driver takes a trip to the front pages of terrorism in this gripping British offering. A riveting psychological and political thriller, The Veteran could have solid appeal as a cable release, and is particularly well-suited to Spike TV.

Bolstered with noir-like scopings and resonating with a percussively disquieting score, the film is a well-crafted character study and explosive entertainment.

Toby Kebbell stars as Robert Miller, a British veteran of the Afghan war whose return to his homeland is marred by recurring nightmares and battle trauma.  Sounds of war explode in his head and, like many veterans, he finds the transition to civilian life both difficult and dismaying. In the rotten British economy, Miller can’t find a normal job and has to subsist on his survival skills; at a low point, he is prey to a British intelligence network who hires him to infiltrate a terrorist cell.

Thrust into the frontlines of a covert government operation, Miller is drawn into a deadly quagmire of deceit and double-crossings. He also must pry information from a beautiful Lebanese-born British citizen (Adi Bielski), who is working as a government informant, or, is she a double-agent? In any event, she’s a femme fatale, which further smears his addled mindset.

Double-crossed, set up, beat up and with a target on his head, Miller’s post-war demons detonate and he launches a personal onslaught against the evils around him.

Highest medals to The Veteran’s technical team, led by director Matthew Hope whose taut visualizations and forceful pacing charge the story throughout. The film’s screenwriting triumvirate of Robert Henry Craft, Matthew Hope and Adam Tysoe has charted both a compelling personal story, as well as an intriguing political actioner.

Commendations also to cinematographer Philipp Blaubach for the noir-style lighting and framings which evoke Miller’s dark mindset. Adding further dimension, Mark Delany’s compositions evoke both Miller’s eruptive condition as well as stoke the story

As the tightly-coiled and lethal veteran, Toby Kebbell taps Travis Bickle mania and cold-blooded survival skills with a winning sympathetic aura. Brian Cox is dead-on scary as a sinister operative.

Venue: Cannes Film Festival, Market
Production company: DMK Prods., Iconiq Group, Local Films
Cast: Toby Kebbell, Brian Cox, Tony Curran, Adi Bielski, Tom Brooke, Ashley Bashy Thomas
Director: Matthew Hope
Screenwriters: Robert Henry Craft, Matthew Hope, Adam Tysoe
Producers: Kim Leggatt, Debbie Shuter
Director of photography: Philipp Blaubach
Production designer: Chris Richmond
Costume designer: Emma Fryer
Music: Mark Delany
Editor: Emma Gaffney
No rating, 100 minutes