Dir: Sam Mendes (15, 110 mins)
A World War I tale told in an apparent single take, Sam Mendes’ daring drama places you in the heart of the horrors of warfare with visceral intensity. Inspired by his grandfather, this follows two young servicemen (an excellent George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman), who are tasked with delivering a message to British troops deep in enemy territory warning them against an imminent German ambush that will wipe them all out. What follows is a ticking time bomb of a thriller as the pair struggle across enemy territory via tunnels, open ground, and dangers from the sky to get to the troops in time. Chapman’s brother is one of those in danger, adding even more tension. Peopling their quest are the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch’s damaged, stoic officer, and other British infantry played with conviction by Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Mark Strong and Daniel Mays. Colin Firth is the officer who sends them on their way into danger. Propulsive and gripping, Mendes has fashioned an action film along with co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns full of explosive heart stopping set pieces, amidst the tragedy of conflict. MacKay is particularly good as the private sent into the heart of darkness, horror etched on his face throughout. Tense and evocative, Mendes has crafted a terrible glimpse into the war to end all wars.
Opens Jan 10