This is the British 24? Get tae fuck. I understand why PR "people" want to associate the TV show they’re hawking with an established success but seriously 24? How is 24 superior to Strike Back? Let me count the ways: many. Ass Crack begins on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Durka Durkas have kidnapped a British industrialist and they plan to do the killing unto him. But lo, they are soon surrounded by armed SAS bastards including Egg from This Life (Andrew Lincoln) led by Lance Cpl Whatever John Porter (Richard Armitage) who is killing Hajis like it ain’t no thing. Look! It’s the British Generation Kill
"Instead of shooting him in the tits he eye codes him to not push the button, rather let him snip his wires. The kid is all "thank you boss", relieved as anything and muttering ‘I owe you my life now, invader infidel pig.’"
But wait! There’s a facially scarred teenage suicide bomber about to blow him, his scar and Porter’s crew of flunkies to the hell they came from just as they are extracting the hostage. Instead of doing the operationally valid thing and shooting him in the tits, Porter eye codes him to not push the button, so he can snip his wires. The kid is all "thank you boss", relieved as anything and muttering something in Durka along the lines of "I owe you my life now, invader infidel pig". Porter says “thanks, raghead!" before knocking him unconscious with his rifle butt. Butt it doesn’t end there.
"The Sunnis say they’ll make with the ritual killing on the WebCam. To show they’re not messing around, they chop her hand off on in one of the Internet’s more eventful webcasts."
Because the kid regains consciousness, picks up a rifle and apparently wastes two of Porter’s men and critically injures a third. "Apparently" meaning "not" as we don’t actually see him do this so he very likely didn’t . If he did the moral of this tale would be "kill children or your mates die". However, "the Little Scarred Bastard did it" is the assumption the military powers that be are working on when they shitcan Porter from the military for not offing the teen. Two dead and one seriously brain-damaged – it’s like the Fleetwood Mac story and just as tough to watch. Porter ends up shovelling shit out of cuckoo clocks in some two bit security job. Nobody’s happy.
FlashForward to 2010 Iraq and British journalist Penelope Pitstop (Orla Brady) is kidnapped by Durka Durka Sunni Muslims calling themselves Sword of Islam. But there’s nothing sunny about these militants. They give the British government a deadline to release some Haji brother in Belmarsh or they’ll make with the ritual killing on the WebCam. To show they’re not messing around, they chop her hand off on in one of the Internet’s more eventful webcasts.
"This is just a pretty dumb show. Porter gets sent to Iraq to seek out a boy he let live seven years previously because ‘he owes me a debt of honour’ is the kind of scheme even that crazy bastard Spartacus would balk at."
And the really messed up thing?1 Remember that Scarface kid who Porter let live who (probably didn’t but) could’ve killed those soldiers? Totally down with Sword of Islam and the Pitstop abduction. So when Porter recognizes him on the news he naturally persuades military intelligence that he has leverage with the now fully grown insurgent. Because that is what they’d do in real life – gets some schmo with a grudge and seven years out of the military on the case.
Actually, the first thing the army do is give Porter a mercy fuck in the form of Sgt Danni Prendiville (Shelley Conn last seen in her drawers in Party Animals) to help his state of mind. She specialises in honey traps. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
"Leaving aside the inferior direction, editing, acting, dialogue, concepts, the stakes aren’t really all that high and the emotional high points aren’t too lofty either."
Ah, this is just a pretty dumb show. Dishonourably discharged Porter gets sent to Iraq to seek out a boy he let live seven years previously because "he owes me a debt of honour" is the kind of scheme even that crazy bastard Spartacus would balk at. I’ve nothing against implausible military scenarios with simplistic morality and cookie cutter characters but there’s no excuse for making it all this dull.
And 24? Please. Leaving aside the inferior direction, editing, acting, dialogue and concept, there’s simply not enough action, not enough mindless heroism and there’s no motherfucking Chloe. The stakes aren’t really all that high and the emotional high points aren’t too lofty either. This isn’t bad because it’s not as good as 24 – few things are. It’s just all quite lame.
Startlingly, although it’s adapted from Chris Ryan‘s novel, it’s scripted by Jed Mercurio, the man behind the godlike Bodies. Dude, what happened here?
The verdict on Strike Back: Like? Wack.
Marks out of 10: 5
1 You thought the hand chopping was the really messed up thing didn’t you? Go on, say it.
Imagined: Friday, May 07, 2010