While this film is not wholly successful in its attempts to portray the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London, any British film that has a Muslim hero and tackles a key issue of our time should be investigated. Jag Mundhra, who both directed and wrote the story, attempts to delve into the reasons why young Muslims from Leeds would blow themselves up attempting to inflict carnage on civilians in London; so De Menezes becomes a Muslim. Dramatically this is fine; however, he also tries to plant this narrative into melodrama and this stretches credulity too far.
Nasseeruddin Shah plays Tariq Ali (a better name should have been chosen; very few S.Asian names are well know in Britain but this is one!) who’s appointed to investigate the shootings. The choice is political, Brian Cox’s commander sees it as a way of ensuring the Met is seen to be doing the right thing. Shah, as are the cast in general, is very good in the role; he is not presented as ‘holier than thou’, he’s keen to get up the greasy pole. But having a childhood friend (Om Puri) who is a radical preacher, a nephew who’s making bombs while staying at his house as well as a wife and son directly threatened by the bomb, undermines any subtleties in the set up.
Amongst the subtleties include the representation of the shooter as a ‘typical racist hard man cop’. He spouts the line that ‘Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim’ which demonises a whole culture. However, Ali finds later that the shooter’s wife is black.
The film doesn’t get too far beyond blaming radical Imams for ‘brainwashing’ vulnerable young men for creating terrorists and though Palestine is mentioned it is out of the mouth of the cleric.
The climax is thrilling and seeing a Muslim copper playing the hero is a pleasant change though I’m not sure why it was necessary that he be married to Greta Scacchi.