Chris Ryan’s Strike Back Review: Drama On Strike

May 5, 2010 by  
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CHRIS RYAN’S STRIKE BACK: Wednesday 5th May, SKY1, 9pm ALERT ME

As the Iraq war crawls into its seventh year, inevitably a new drama hits the screens tonight on Sky 1 adapted from Super-Army-Soldier-supremo Chris Ryan’s best-selling novel Strike Back. The storyline will be familiar to even the less informed current affairs junkie as an SAS mission to rescue a hostage results in the death of two soldiers the day before the initial “invasion?. The cause of these soldiers’ deaths: the lead protagonist’s inability to shoot dead a teenage suicide bomber. Cue emotional baggage and a thirst for revenge.

In the ever changing landscape of Iraq dramas that combine real news footage and drama loosely based on real events, the lexicon to describe the war has evolved with the media’s presentation of the conflict. Hence the opening titles inform the viewer that the following action takes place “24 hours before the invasion of Iraq?. Linguists might be tempted to claim that this suggests a certain liberal leaning on behalf of the programme makers who one would think see the violence currently being wreaked in Iraq as unlawful and not a legitimate exercise in implementing democracy. However, the benefit of this hindsight does not resonate through the rest of the first episode which quickly resorts back to the macho posturing of films such as Black Hawk Down where anyone not wearing a khaki outfit immediately qualifies as potential collateral damage in a narrative arc that is clearly laid out by heavy handed plot exposition and poor acting.

A quick montage fast forwards through several years as the Sunni-Shi’ite civil war erupts into fighting that the allies can no longer contain. As Iraq disintegrates so does John, unimaginatively implied by his reluctance to shave and his stubborn refusal to get a haircut that won’t make him look like he’s having a massive nervous breakdown. Oh – and his daughter who’s photo he used to lovingly kiss before going out on dangerous missions is no longer speaking to him. Nothing that a redeployment to Iraq won’t fix then.

Inexplicably, despite his “10% weakness in one arm?, he is employed to help track down a new hostage whom he suspects the Republican guard who set him up in the first place has had a hand in capturing. In an impassioned scene between John and an old colleague he states that his interest isn’t based on “revenge?. He’s warned in return that whatever the outcome of the mission it “won’t bring them back?.

With a renewed sense of purpose and a quick Rorschach test to which he cheekily replies “vagina? to each abstract blot, John is soon back on his feet, shaved and getting laid. John’s unexpected meteoric return to normality is so inconsistent with everything that has preceded it before the audience becomes instantly divorced from his inner struggles and sit back for what looks like another five episodes of Iraqis being shot, soldiers being bally brave heroes and John finally getting the “revenge? that he supposedly wasn’t seeking in the first place.

Jack says:

I agree with John. This is a harmless tv show and the reviewer could at least try and hide the fact that he anti iraq invasion. He also makes it clear that he dosen’t like soldiers and he dosen’t like a pussy. Sure this isn’t the dumb ass drama that women watch and evidently you watch mr reviewer but it’s not so bad either. Try and push pass the fact that you were beaten up by the type of people that became soildiers and stop being as childish as to take your personel feelings and apply them to a review. As your so obviously doing. It’s very clear that your using this reveiw to spite The war and Soldiers and Sky. Anna’s probably just some sad person that hasn’t had a cock in the right place for a while.

John Summers says:

Your wrong – this action pack series is awesome! Sure it’s mindless and silly and probably full of inaccuracies but it’s fun! The reviewer and “Anna” are probably dull and snobbish people who probably watch rubbish reality shows….

Anna says:

This is totally aimed at young blokes, who probably spend the rest of their time playing war games.The book is awful.I was suspicious that Sky didn`t put this drama on their free pass weekend programmes;my suspicions were confirmed by the macho rubbish that I saw. If you don`t mind implausible scenarios, and seeing female characters sidelined into having few lines,being treated like sex toys or objects to prop up the lead character`s masculinity(the largely ignored wife and daughter) then this junk is for you.It`s a shame that writer Jed Mercurio is reduced to turning out material like this.Armitage was apparently not the 1st choice for this role; he`s wooden and laclustre. Avoid.