THE SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE (Ireland|South Africa/15A/108mins)
Directed by Richie Smyth. Starring Jamie Dornan, Mark Strong, Jason O’Mara, Michael McElhatton, Amy Louise Wilson
THE PLOT: In the early 1960s, as both sides of the Cold War vied for control of the newly created Republic of the Congo and the rich minerals the country was home to, Irish peacekeeping troops were sent to the country by the UN to keep watch at the Jadotville compound. After a military operation goes wrong, the Irish troops suddenly find themselves laid siege to by French and Belgian mercenaries. Outnumbered and outgunned, it seems that help is not on the way.
THE VERDICT: Based in true events and the novel ‘The Siege at Jadotville: The Irish Army’s Forgotten Battle’ by Declan Power, ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ serves as recognition for Irish soldiers whose brave standoff was swept under the carpet after they were forced to surrender. The film is actually a Netflix Original, but after a successful screening at the Galway Film Fleadh, ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ is getting a release in Irish cinemas.
Jamie Dornan leads the cast, and is backed up by Mark Strong, Michael McElhatton, Mikael Persbrandt, Amy Louise Wilson and Jason O’Mara. All of the cast are fine in their roles, but this is not really a character driven film, but one that focuses on the shoot ‘em up siege in the middle of nowhere.
Kevin Brodbin’s screenplay is sufficient for the most part, but a little more attention could have been paid to the history of the conflict in the Congo, and the events that led to the siege in Jadotville since pieces of the puzzle only fall into place towards the end of the film. The Irish troops are shown as plucky and strong, and the dialogue between them feels real and relatable.
As director, first timer Richie Smyth does well with the action sequences in the film; these are exciting and fast paced and, since this is a story that was suppressed for so long, keep the audience at the edge of their seats. The background of the conflict is dealt with with less care, and this is where the film falters, and although we root for the Irish soldiers as a group, no one of them is brought properly to the fore, so we are never truly given a central character to root for.
In all, ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ is an important story, and it is great to see a story kept secret finally make it to the big screen. The set pieces are well created and the cast do well in their roles, but greater attention to characters and the background to the conflict in the Congo would have made for a stronger and more engaging film.
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Ahead of its debut on Netflix shortly, there’s a limited opportunity to catch the Netflix-produced The Siege Of Jadotville on the big screen. It’s well-worth the trip to see it on the big screen, as this is an epic true story told in miniature that works better as a shared communal experience.

    The Congo, 1961. Local warlord Moise (Danny Sapani) has seized power from his rival in the region of Katanga. The political situation is tense and fraught with problems. The mining companies have invested heavily in the area and don’t want their activities to be disrupted. The French and Belgians have their own interests in the area as well, patrolled by mercenaries. At the UN, Secretary General Hammarskjold (Mikael Persbrandt) dispatches a peace-keeping force from Ireland to keep the situation calm and under control, under the command of Dr Connor Cruise O’Brien (Mark Strong) and McEntee (Michael McElhatton). Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan) and his troops take up the compound outside the town of Jadotville. Moise is unhappy with this outside interference from the UN and its ‘peacekeepers’, so he secures the usage of the French and Belgian mercs led by Falquez (Guillaume Canet) to attack the Irish compound. But Quinlan and his men put up a strong resistance that won’t be easy to overcome…

    The story of what happened at Jadotville is a little-known but important slice of Irish and international history that was swept under the carpet by the Irish Government until 2005. This reviewer had never even heard of it until just recently. That’s a shame really, as this is a story of ordinary Irish soldiers without any experience of being in a warzone being put under great pressure and repelling attacks from a superior force. The Irish version of the 1964 true-life classic Zulu, if you will. That’s a basic comparison, but it serves the cinematic narrative template well. Quinlan and his men came under repeated waves of attacks, but held off their attackers. That’s not a disgrace. That deserves respect.

    It’s an impressive debut from a first-timer. Richie Smyth shows the confidence, visual flair and attention to detail that would usually mark out more experienced directors. Maybe there’s a parallel here between Quinlan and Smyth in their different battles, one in a warzone and one in the battleground of making an independent film that looks much bigger than its small budget. Working with a quality cast of international actors must have helped too. Dornan is on a roll here after The 9th Life Of Louis Drax and Anthropoid recently. There’s far more to him than that deeply silly ‘Grey’ franchise that he’s got himself, ahem, tied up in. It’s both an Irish film and an international film, so there’s potential for this little-known story to reach a major platform. Kudos to Netflix for that. The Siege Of Jadotville is thrilling, action-packed, intense and full of heroism – but thankfully without any flag-waving jingoism. It certainly deserves a salute – and your immediate attention. ****