Top positive review
35 people found this helpful
Excellent thought provoking drama but nagging doubts remain
on 11 March 2006
In an innovative move Michael Winterbottoms film of the capture and internment of the so called "Tipton three" was given a simultaneous premiere on television, cinema and DVD. It's certainly a thought provoking film, worthy of such a unique approach. Whether it captures actual events with the ringing endorsement of absolute truth is another thing entirely.
The film opens with archive footage of Tony Blair and George W Bush telling us that as far as they are concerned all the people being held at Guantanamo Bay are "Bad People". As virtually every one knows that these two gentlemen are at best economical with the truth or more likely bare faced liars it's clear where the film is heading .And it won't please readers of the Daily Mail.
Taking it's title from the road movies of the 1940,s starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby but with even fewer laughs has a slightly more politically correct slant, the movie sees Birmingham lad Asif Iqbal ( Arfan Usman) who is about to get married invite his friends Shafiq Rasul( Rizwan Ahmed), Ruhal Ahmed( Farhad Rasun) to accompany him. Once in Pakistan they chill out, meeting family and friends. They seem very decent lads, giving food away to poor local children, pleasant and polite. Then in tow with another friend Monir ( Waqar Siddiqi) and Shafiq,s cousin Zahid ( Shahid Iqbal ) they decide , seemingly on a whim, mainly based on the fact the place has" huge nans " to cross the border into Afghanistan . Now this is one area of the film I have a problem with. There is a brief conversation between them about helping fellow Muslims, which is all conveniently vague. Are we to believe their plans for walking into a potential war zone were so nebulous? It doesn't ring true to me. Sight seeing in a place of political and sociological strife seems a bad move no matter how much you feel for the plight of your "Brothers" as you perceive them.
Once there they don't do very much, just hang about, tending each other when they fall ill. Very low key .Once the penny drops that there is nothing they can do to influence events they attempt to return to Pakistan but become caught up in some very realistic bombardment. Separated from Monir, who is the films true poignant victim, they are captured by the Northern Alliance and in some very powerful scenes are marched and then trucked to the infamous Sherbeghan Prison. Once their captors realise that they are English they hand them over to the Americans who promptly transfer them to Guantanamo bay in Cuba.
Once there they face endless interrogation by very stony faced Americans who shout " On Your knees " a lot , long periods of solitary confinement , some extremely uncomfortable scenes chained to the floor in anatomically compromising positions while un-pleasant death metal is played at excruciating volume. They give the same answers constantly to the same questions about Osama Bin Laden and are stoic to the point of heroic in the face of all this. Another facet of the movie that nags, gremlin like, at your reserves of credulity.
Their religion is constantly demeaned, the Koran is spat on and kicked around but their faith eventually pays off, because they are suddenly released after two years and returned to Britain where they face no charges Nor do they receive any compensation or even an apology.
Interspersed with all the dramatic footage the three men give talking head accounts of what happened to them and again come across as decent young men, lacking bitterness or anger. I would have been foaming at the mouth but aggressive shouty Americans get me like that.
The nagging doubt remains for me that large chunks of this story have been painted with very broad brush strokes. At times it verges on anti coalition propaganda, but playing them at their own game is certainly more than all right with me. Still I feel that a certain paucity of truth been employed with this version. The certain fact remains however, that their treatment and internment was despicable and blatant hypocrisy coming from administrations that purport to administer truth, equality and justice where none previously existed. If all this excellently edited and beautifully shot movie does is make a handful of people realise that then it will have not been made in vain. And poor Monir has never been seen again. Another sad pointless victim of the continuing "war on terror".