Lensing some violent encounters on the ruined streets of Iraq, Mosul pertains to be one of those war and warrior’s tales where the sense of futility that war should engender is effectually submerged in oodles of misplaced bravado. Worse yet Mosul seems to suggest that strife is necessary when a society and a culture are under siege. Mosul gives itself no leeway for political distancing from the characters. Unlike the 2019 war masterpiece 1914 where we were thrown into a sense of growing despair and dread over the casualties of war, there is no sense of tragic loss in the events that unfold so stoically in Mosul.
Everyone is out to get a piece of the action. The city of Mosul comes alive in a rather predictable way with buildings ravaged by bombing and soldiers who haven’t seen a bed or a bath for weeks. The main problem with the plot is that it is scattered all over the place, giving us deliberately a fragmented view into a fractured civilization grappling with civil dissension.
The actors are primarily Iraqi or Middle Eastern. They add a sense of realism to the proceedings though the appeal for hoary heroics is limited in times when war seems like such a vulgar and violent waste of time energy resources man-power and life. I would say the same is true of films that glorify war while pretending to condemn them. I am afraid Mosul is one of those films.
Not for a minute did I feel the futility of war. What was disturbingly evident were the gun battles which are staged like muscular displays of man power. I should have felt sickened to the stomach by waste and plunder, and I should have been moved at the end when one of the heroes is reunited with his family in a room backlit in a Biblical haze of orange and yellow. But I felt nothing. I doubt the characters felt anything either. Some solid performances by Suhail Dabbach as the leader of the SWAT team and Adam Bessa as his newest recruit do not take away from the feeling that what we are watching is an extension of the gamely war sentiments of the Russo Brothers Extraction. They are producers on this one. God save us all.