Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Mark Womack, Andrea Lowe, John Bishop, Geoff Bell & Jack Fortune
The title of Ken Loach’s latest film ‘Route Irish’ refers to the highway between Baghdad international airport and the US-held Green Zone in Iraq. After childhood friend Frankie has been killed on this highway- an ex-soldier on hire by a British private security firm- the film follows best mate and comrade Fergus around Liverpool as he tries to make the pieces of the puzzle around Frankie’s death fit together. Hardly satisfied that Frankie was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time, Fergus sets out to uncover the truth- and it emerges early on that all is not as it seems. What unfolds is Fergus’ quest to seek out truth, and the truths exposed are varied and many
Save for the scenes which actually unfold within Iraq, there is significantly no mention of the countries involved in, or the reasons behind the war. It appears, therefore, that the chief motivation to participate in it- for both those operating the private security firm in England, and those deployed by it in Iraq- is the financial gain, and the gross disparity between the value of that gain for both parties is duly noted. The head honchos of the firm drive expansive cars and wear tailored suits; Fergus’ spacious apartment, which commands an impressive river view, is sparsely furnished- a few tub of Pot Noodles on the kitchen counter, a computer and a camp bed appear to be his only possessions. He spends his leisure hours on his balcony following passers-by through the target of his sniper gun, highlighting Fergus’ struggle to integrate himself back into his old way of life- and conform to other people’s notion of who he is or, more accurately, was.
In order to carry out their duty, soldiers such as Frankie and Fergus must turn themselves into machines, capable of making split-second decisions without consideration for ethical and moral implications. Harrowing actions in the warzone are ratified by the recurrent mantra of ‘no blood, no foul’- meaning a soldier can commit any atrocious act he wishes so long as no blood is shed- and the film questions the validity of using this criteria to assess the harm done to the individual, as it examines the psychological impact which such an experience has left on Fergus.
Although the story which the film tells is specific, the themes which it investigates are universal, making Route Irish a highly recommendable film to watch.
by Róisín Lacey-McCormac
The Trailer to Route Irish.