The Patrol review: hurry up and wait

Get new reviews in your email in-box or in an app by becoming a paid Substack subscriber or Patreon patron.

The Patrol yellow light Ben Righton

A rough experience, bracingly free of the usual macho posturing that characterizes movies about the military, and a compassionate and humane portrait of modern soldiering.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Afghanistan’s Helmand province is a harsh, bland desert: all one dun color, nothing to distract the eye or the mind. And in 2006, it is a place of intense boredom punctuated by intense terror for one small British army patrol, ostensibly onsite to support the Afghan army against the Taliban, but in actuality… well, these guys wonder just why they’re there at all. This feature debut from writer-director Tom Petch is a rough experience, bracingly free of the usual macho posturing that characterizes movies about the military, which makes the slow breakdown of what had barely passed for discipline to begin with all the more affecting: these are real men, not war machines. As their mission morphs from a three-day patrol to ten days, and then beyond, coping by trading insults with one another becomes worrying about whether the lack of resupply means they’ll run out of bullets — or starve — and then even more profound worry when a resupply finally showing up means they’re stuck in their remote patch of rock and sand for who-knows-how-much-longer. How do their leaders maintain cohesion when everyone knows it’s a “shit situation”? (This comes via a voiceover narration by the patrol’s captain [Ben Righton: Doctor Who], clearly being offered in a future interview situation, with ominous hindsight.) The near plotlessness of the film is likely meant to replicate the hurry-up-and-wait military environment and the lack of purpose weighing down its characters, but it is often trying for the viewer, too. Still, this is a compassionate and humane portrait of modern soldiering that makes it look like the slow-motion nightmare that it surely is.

share and enjoy
             
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
If you haven’t commented here before, your first comment will be held for MaryAnn’s approval. This is an anti-spam, anti-troll, anti-abuse measure. If your comment is not spam, trollish, or abusive, it will be approved, and all your future comments will post immediately. (Further comments may still be deleted if spammy, trollish, or abusive, and continued such behavior will get your account deleted and banned.)
subscribe
notify of
3 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
RogerBW
RogerBW
Fri, Feb 07, 2014 6:09pm

Oo. Hadn’t heard about this at all, but I’ll definitely keep a lookout for it.

jimmie t. murakami
jimmie t. murakami
Fri, Feb 07, 2014 8:00pm

MaryAnn, have you read Ty E’s truly astonishing reveiws of “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “12 Years a Slave” over on Soiled Sinema ?, hes perhaps the ONLY film reveiwer in the entire world whos had to guts to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with regards to those two ‘supposedly’ brilliant movies ! ! !.

jimmie t. murakami
jimmie t. murakami
Fri, Feb 07, 2014 9:55pm

So MaryAnn, you dont like Soiled Sinema ! ? ! ?.