The Veteran

Ah, South London. Perhaps the most dangerous place on earth outside of the Korengal Valley.

Robert Miller (Toby Kebbell) is the titular veteran, recently returned from military service in Afghanistan, and trying to integrate back into civilian life. It’s not an easy thing to do when your skill set so far away from what the High Street shops want. It’s not long before he hooks up with another ex paratrooper and gets drawn into the murky world of covert surveillance and the shadowy fringes of black ops. But at the same time he finds himself drawn into another new battleground, one literally on his doorstep as a local drug-peddling gangster with delusions of grandeur and eloquence begins poisoning the young brother of an old friend, putting Miller on his radar. And vice versa.

As things begin to spiral out of control, you can’t help but draw parallels with Harry Brown, and while this is no bad thing, Kebbell’s portrayal of the troubled veteran may not garner the same sympathy as Caine’s OAP hero. Miller is a product of a new war, and has the seething energy of a younger man. Initially deflected by the promise of a new mission, when that mission sours, Miller can’t switch it off. Scarred and haunted by the echoes of a deadly ambush in Afghanistan that is only ever alluded to, Kebbell plays the PTSD warped focus this manifests as with a brooding intensity that makes the bloody consequences of this new, personal war inevitable and as tragic as it is brutal.

There aren’t any rainbows or laughter in Kebbell’s world, just brooding malice, vivid and gritty violence  and a thought provoking look into the future of the ex servicemen left to fend off PTSD in a society that has no place for their skills, creating a vulnerability that can be exploited by the unscrupulous. Compelling, atmospheric stuff. Think of it as a mash up of Bourne and Harry Brown with lashings of The Wire – if you liked any of these, you’ll do well to see this.

The Veteran is out on April 29.

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