‘We’ve used every bullet twice. What do we do now?’
Tension hangs in the air. Those in attendance exchange nervous glances. Yes. It has happened. A visiting family member is scrolling through Netflix to pick a film for everyone to watch. They could choose a film you have seen many times before. They could choose the Mothman Prophecies for chrissakes! On this occasion, thankfully, we ended up with The Siege of Jadotville…
Now I would probably have never chosen to watch this film. It sounds boring. Films with the word ‘siege’ in the title tend to be boring. It also stars Jamie Dornan, most famous for appearing in the farcical 50 Shades of Grey franchise. Hardly a glowing endorsement. And finally, it is tucked away about three pages into the Action section of Netflix. I category that I have never once visited before. In the end though I am glad that The Siege of Jadotville was forced upon me because it is actually pretty damn good.
Pat Quinlan (Dornan) is an inexperienced but well read commanding officer who finds himself leading a band of similarly untested Irish soldiers in the Katanga region of Congo in the middle of the Cold War. It soon becomes clear that Quinlan’s men are facing near insurmountable odds as they are penned in by French and Belgian mercenaries.
I will begin with Dornan because I knew very little about him going into this film but I came away from it suitably impressed with a commanding and confident performance. He has probably done his acting career no favours by starring in 50 Shades of Grey but on the evidence of his charismatic turn here, he has the chops to be able to recover. Dornan makes for a convincing leader of men and shares a believable camaraderie with his men, all of which are played with gusto by a host of little known, mostly Irish actors.
Director Richie Smyth cut his teeth producing music videos for the likes of U2 and the Verve with The Siege of Jadotville being his first feature film, not that you would know it with such an assured and salient take on what is very much a true story. This is clearly a passion project for Smyth and that affection for the story ensures that The Siege of Jadotville is affecting without being overly sentimental. Smyth and his talented cast tell this extraordinary story well and respectfully.
Netflix originals have been hit and miss in recent years but despite going under the radar, The Siege of Jadotville is one of their better efforts.