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Film: The Patrol (15)

War worse than a waste of time

The Patrol (15)

Directed by Tom Petch

4 Stars

After all the Hollywood propaganda films about the war on the world, along comes a more modest offering from Britain suggesting it has been worse than a waste of time.

Written and directed by former soldier Tom Petch, it's the first British feature film to deal with attitudes to the war from the point of view of the soldiers fighting it.

It questions the veracity of those politicians who described their mission in Afghanistan as one of "reconstruction," since "we are pulling out in 2014 with 444 dead."

The film opens to reveal that the patrol of the title is made up of two officers, five regulars and a Territorial Army soldier, representing different ethnic and class origins.

The officers refer to the men as "chaps" while the latter address them as "boss" and between themselves as "Ruperts."

There are no mass battle scenes. What is depicted is the daily grind, the moans about lack of equipment and armaments and the desire simply to try to avoid being killed.

There are casualties, differences of opinion, insubordination and even accusations of treason - all definitely not in the tradition of the British army.

As we have learnt to our cost that tradition is a lengthy one of lions led by donkeys, the former having to force the latter to face up to reality even though, as the men say, "this is not our war."

Jeff Sawtell

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