Saturday, August 23, 2008

SHOOT ON SIGHT - poorly made, crude, political drama

SHOOT ON SIGHT is a poorly made, earnest but superficial film about the British police response to the post 9-11 terrorist threat. It's made by the team that brought us PROVOKED - another movie based in the British Asian community. It shares that film's ropey production values as well as its caricature about race issues in the UK.

The movie takes its inspiration from the
de Menezes shooting, in which an innocent South American man was mistaken by British police to be a suicide bomber and was shot in a tube station just after the 7/7 bombings. However, in its ham-fisted way, instead of making the victim a South American clean-shaven man, they make him a caricature Orthodox muslim complete with kurta pajama and cap. The nervous police, as represented by Brian Cox, bring in a muslim cop (Naseerudin Shah) to investigate the case. Shah is a very fine actor, but his accent is all over the shop - from Cockney to Scouse - and this is extremely distracting. This being a simplistic, neat drama, obviously the copper's childhood friend just happens to be a fanatical mullah. And of course, wouldn't you just know that he's sponsored his nice young radical nephew to come and live in his loft-conversion?

Apart from Gulshan Grover and Om Puri (representing moderate and radical Islam), the performances are all weak. Crucially, there is no attempt to understand how the suicide bomber became a radical. Behind the camera, we have a shooting style reminiscent of cheap British soap operas and a score that is as subtle as a Bollywood melodrama.

If you want to see a movie about the pyschology and politics behind suicide bombing and the police response to it, you would do far better to watch the recent Indian art movie, BLACK AND WHITE. BLACK AND WHITE strives hard to prove that the issues are never really so binary, whereas SHOOT ON SIGHT never bothers with such nuances.

SHOOT ON SIGHT is on release in the UK.

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