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Strike Back: Shadow Warfare – when an undercover Section 20 agent is executed in cold blood Scott and Stonebridge set their sights on the killer and his terrorist organization. For this first time, this season pulls out some big names with the likes of Martin Clunes (best death face ever), Dougray Scott, Robson Green, and Rhona Mitra. And when you thought it wouldn’t be possible, everything is EVEN MORE ridiculous, funny, cheesy, trashier and sensational than the previous outings: a sexy Russian agent-babe is introduced in one scene, and literally a having vodka sex (with Scott, obvz) in the next one; a gay transvestite pensioner hard-man starts prison riot; and only Strike Back could have the Real IRA team up with Muslim terrorists and get away with it. This is the first season where the different directors stand out as the opening two episodes have computer-game / John Woo slow-mo vibe, with epic music and everything exploding; the middle six feel more ‘traditional’ action episodes, and the final two play out more like 24 episodes with the focus being on twists and reveals (and some poorly handled shaky cam action). The overall story and structure stick to previous season formulas, but hey, every plot thread in Strike Back is just chasing McGuffins to serve up more action scenes. When things aren’t being blown to shit, the drama stuff is well handled, characters get a bit more time to develop, and the show still isn’t afraid to pull punches or shock the viewers with main cast killings. I’ve pretty much ran out of superlatives and phrases to describe how good Strike Back is because it’s so consistent in delivering five top-drawer action B-movies season after season. The show gives its audience (14-40 year old boys) exactly what they want: action, babes, guns, nudity, explosions, gadgets… and the fact that this rollercoaster series ends with a sex scene says it all really. The tagline for this season is “The world’s not saving itself”; but Strike Back is definitely saving the action TV genre.

Score: 8.5/10

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STRIKE BACK REVIEW 

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STRIKE BACK: PROJECT DAWN REVIEW

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STRIKE BACK: VENGEANCE REVIEW

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Strike Back Season 1 John Porter Richard Armitage Andrew Lincoln, Orla Brady, Shelley Conn, Colin Salmon, Jodhi May,  Toby Stephens, Ewen Bremner, Dhaffer L'Abidine, Shaun Parkes, Alexander Siddig

Strike Back (Season 1): When he takes the blame for a failed mission, Spec Ops soldier John Porter is kicked out of the SAS, but re-hired seven years later to catch a familiar face. After the briefest of setups Strike Back is pretty much just action-action-action with the odd scrap of plot – it has to be one of the most action-centric, kick ass, blood splattering, neck-snapping, omni-exploding pieces of TV badassery out there. Richard Armitage (as John Porter) holds his own and really makes the show, as the central Damaged Hero, and total badass – channeling guys like Rambo & Mclean – and could probably take on Jack Bauer in a fight; not even kidding! As the series sprints forward, the main backstory becomes more intricate, and interlinked with the current missions. The episodes which are decadently overflowing with set-pieces, deception, betrayal, action, adrenalin and politics – are all surprisingly believable, at least until the Scottish hacker pops up in the final mission. All-in-all Strike Back is like a mythical unicorn hiding in the TV Schedule: an action-heavy, huge-budget, Movie-styled TV show consisting of 3 interlinked adrenaline-soaked 90-minute episodes that truly raise the action bar. Action fans rejoice!

Score: 8.5/10

Strike Back Season 1 John Porter 2 Richard Armitage Andrew Lincoln, Orla Brady, Shelley Conn, Colin Salmon, Jodhi May,  Toby Stephens, Ewen Bremner, Dhaffer L'Abidine, Shaun Parkes, Alexander Siddig

Route Irish: named after the most dangerous road in the world, this film follows a soldier‘s family and friend as they try to establish how he died working at a private security firm in Iraq. It’s one of the most directed films I’ve seen in a while, and has Ken Loach all over it – a micro-drama that feels realistic, with a docu-drama TV aesthetic and an unambiguous socio-political viewpoint (all in a good way !). Being ‘Lochean’ it also means that ‘Fuck‘ is every second word and most people prefer to shout in each other’s faces rather than talk. The story’s very strong, and the last half hour in particular is a total powerhouse, peaking during the most intense interrogation scene I can remember watching. Emotions are heightened throughout with some harsh footage of the focal incident, and some unpleasant, genuine war aftermath footage. The small cast are all watchable, although they’re left in the shadow of Mark Womack – who plays a brilliant self-destructing soldier armed with his smarts and an insatiable appetite for the truth. Being a modern anti-war film, it does well to play through a jaded soldier’s perspective – and it doesn’t have many positive things to say about private contractors. Gritty and believable no-holds-barred look at the effects of Iraq back home.

Score: 7.5/10