Directed by: #SimonTate
Written by: #ChristopherHatherall
Although not groundbreaking in its portrayal of themes about veteran readjustment to civilian life and PTSD, the passion from writer and star Christopher Hatherall and the terrific direction from Simon Tate make Weapon an engrossing viewing. Adam Smith, a soldier turned electrician with a tragic past both on the battlefield and the Homefront is the focal point of this dramatic thriller that explores society’s dereliction to its veterans and subsequent manipulations of them by the government. Following Adam’s relationships with members of his veteran’s group and their shared trauma, Hatherall’s script examines the grim reality of veteran support and its spiralling effects. Adam being unemployed, his best friend Steven living in a hostel, all these layers of pain, bravado and the belief that they were used and deceived by their government in an immoral war and then cast aside.
While Smith himself never subscribes to any of the beliefs, Weapon does thread in xenophobia, islamophobia and conspiracy theories into its narrative. Tate and Hatherall don’t deliver this as an endorsement of these hateful ideas but acceptance to the amorality of our post-terror society and the survival instincts that drive it. We know now the falsehoods which catalysed the conflicts in the Middle East and these characters are rightfully questioning the reasons they risked their lives and sacrificed so much for. Smith is skilled but vulnerable and the film creates tension in how veterans can be radicalised by different facets, continued to be manipulated as they are still seen as just weapons. The connections followed in the veteran’s group show the available paths; bigotry and hate as seen affecting Steven, or private security and corruption through Daniel. Smith caught in the middle just wanting to do the right thing, trying to grasp on to a sense of decency and honour in his existence.
The performances of Weapon are stellar keeping what could be exaggerated melodrama grounded as Hatherall’s performance gives humanity to Smith when he could just be another cliché. The supporting performances are also brimming with fidelity from Ciaran Kellgren as the boisterous but tormented Steven to Nancy Clarkson as Smith’s counsellor and love interest Sarah. The scenes where Hatherall and his co-stars depict their character’s anger and the consequences of their PTSD are some of the film’s best and Weapon never feels like an exploitation of a substantial issue. When the film’s thriller elements come more into play in the third act, its the performance that keeps it all the more believable and tragic. Complimented by Mark Pullon’s cinematography which captures the intimacy of Hatherall’s most emotional moments, escalating tension and intrigue and makes the most mundane of settings compelling to watch.
While initially, it seems to be transforming into a Death Wish-esque tale of vigilante revenge, there is so much more to Weapon with its characters souls and depiction of brotherhood among veterans. The ‘action’ elements almost seem outlandish in comparison to the strong character work but Tate’s direction keeps the story flowing smoothly with compassion without ever feeling preachy. Smith wants answers and resolutions to his pain and Weapon always focuses on this humanity even when the film takes focus to its larger themes.