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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 07.25.16] United Kingdom post apocalyptic scifi horror thriller mystery

Ben Wheatley's camera operator Nick Gillespie takes his first stab at directing with Tank 432. It's a "where are we?", war games version of A Field in England where film-as-hallucination is not just part of the experience, but informs the machinations of the constantly turning plot. Unfortunately, many of the twists in the story are obvious and the revelations never really come, which is all the more frustrating and disappointing considering the film is a technically strong debut.

As the story begins, we're thrown into a the middle of a war that appears to have been raging for some time. One by one we're introduced to our main cast of mercenaries lead by Rupert Evans (Hellboy) who does great work here as does many of the character actors. The squad has two hostages, blindfolded and clothed in orange jumpsuits.

They decide to recon a farm house where they're told people have gotten sick, only when they get there they find the remains of another squad and all hell breaks loose.

Suddenly, the squad is confronted by "the enemy": a ghostly apparition that appears and seems to stand motionless at a distance. The squad panics and retreats, holing up inside a long abandoned Bulldog tank.

What follows is a close-quarters, character driven thriller where claustrophobia and discomfort lead to tempers flaring and personality clashes.

I was pretty pumped when the film started. It had the rough-as-guts flavour of Dog Soldiers and did a great job at setting up each character and their relationships. The added supernatural layer is subtle and mysterious in such a way that made me think we were headed into unique territory. Unfortunately, the story goes downhill quickly once the characters become locked in the tank what's really going on begins to unravel.

Telling a story in tight quarters is challenging and Gillespie does a tremendous job keeping the layout of the tank's interior understandable while as making us feel claustrophobic. Sound is used to great effect and a hallucinatory ebbs and flows through the story keeping the viewer off balance and wondering the nature of reality.

I'll avoid spoilers here, but suffice it to say the end will have you asking questions the film should have done a better job answering. I'm all for ambiguity and mystery, but story telling shortcuts are problematic.

Ultimately, Tank 432 is an deftly made indie using what feels like the beginnings of a few unique idea.

Recommended Release: Dog Soldiers

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MRAllen134 (5 years ago) Reply

You are at Fantasia? I am jealous.

Nice review. This is on my to-see list.

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