Director: Luke Aherne
Writers: Luke Aherne, John Jamieson
Stars: Duncan Airlie James, Andrew McIntosh, Simon McCay
Short Film Review: Andrew Moore
In the 23 minute film short Fanatic we see an ex Special Forces officer Major Doug Bormann (played by an imposing Duncan Airlie James) pulled out of retirement into a covert operation to engage with an old combatant (the Fanatic) who’s apparently resurfaced in an obscure eastern European republic somewhere, but during the course of this short narrative several plot anchors are dropped to imply all may certainly not be as it seems.
Seeing that this film short ends with a ‘to be continued . . .’ cliff hanger and not a conclusion as such I felt that perhaps the luxury of a little more character background could have been developed. Of course it’s time is limited but given that its setting up a story with no need to conclude it (and thus projecting a narrative into the future) a stronger character identification with Major Doug Bormann who serves as a pivotal point of interest could further augment the film. That said, the film's central dialogue (along with family scenes) gives us enough to develop interest in the central protagonist (although perhaps not his nemesis). Fanatic has good production values with an engaging gun fight and the prescribed explosions, concise editing, decent cinematography by Alan McLaughlin that includes an impressive green hue to the military scenes in The Republic of Rabashah and the majority of the performances are strong enough. Along with this Fanatic is well scored creating just the right amount of intrigue and suspense.
By creating a dual narrative in Scotland and The Republic of Rabashah (not to mention the spurious goings on within The Merchantile Gentlemen of Glasgow Club), the film achieves a depth to the narrative which is impressive for its brevity and certainly hints at a far wider story ahead for Major Doug Bormann and his interlocutor. Maybe a victim of this was that some of the plot devices were a bit unoriginal, types of scenes we’ve all seen before done in a way we’ve all seen before and some of the dialogue was a bit too ‘on the nail.’ An exception to this would be the hidden tracking device on one of the rescued characters at the end, which once more hints at a wider story developing and alternative motivations of key characters. This intrigue was previously racked up too as we wondered why an ex Special Forces colleague Eddie had told him to “watch his back,” and why does he have a gun in his gym bag (who is he really)? Agent Grant’s character (Emma Spence) back in Scotland (who protects Bormann’s family from attack) again projects towards strong future dual narratives and a decent female supporting role. It should also be noted that a female character appears to be running the nefarious dealings in The Republic of Rabashah too!
I felt that there could’ve perhaps been a few stronger visual clues to the location The Republic of Rabashah to create a sense of ‘somewhere else’ than just the use of names ending in ‘ovich’ which is fine in itself but not when unaugmented by anything else. The violence and intimidating aura did of course achieve some sense of geographical juxtaposition. I was left thinking about the motivation for the title Fanatic at the end though. Why Fanatic? Who was fanatical, had been fanatical (and if so why) or was becoming so Luke Aherne’s film. In spite of this there was certainly enough revealed to develop this exponentially in the multiple plot lines laid out (which was surely the premise of the short film's motivation) and flesh out the characters roles within them consequentially. To this extent Fanatic fully achieves its goal. Beyond this, personally I’m rooting for a future narrative deviation with Major Doug Bormann tackling a new take on the predator or even Neil Marshall’s 2002 film Dog Soldiers (come on Luke, you know it makes sense)!
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