Another day at the office beginning, you grab your coffee, down breakfast, and over the phone, have a family squabble before getting down to business. Nine to Five, it’s the same all over the world, and apparently, according to director Paul J. Franklin’s BAFTA Qualifying Fireworks, the seriousness of the job doesn’t change things. At MI6 headquarters, techies ready themselves to rain hell fire missiles down on some unsuspected Muslim community, and too much cream between the deadly ops screams quite the metaphor. Modern war is too easy. But it’s not the only question. In only 15 minutes, the scales tip hard in weighing the greater good versus the collateral damage of victory.

Nonetheless, a foreboding strum on the synthesizer introduces us to an exterior shot of the building, and we know the subject matter isn’t playing around. Going inside the antiseptic, windowless bunker, the high tech computer screens and the detailed infrared readouts implies the precision of this type of military action.

Business is good, according to the sophisticated cinematic setup, and all seems to say that the bad guy’s number is up. That is until the humans appear. Eccentricities and personal problems abound, their co-working computers would not simply standby if they could speak. Numerous calls to human resources would complain about an unsafe working environment.

On the other hand, the introduction of this unstable element is not as bad as it sounds. There is at least a back and forth in terms of how the logistics affect the people on the ground and radiate out to other theaters in the global war on terror.

Up first and in charge, Gillian (Charlotte Riley) never takes her eye off the ball. She’s got the target, and the steely resolve that Riley exudes can’t be mistaken. Her jaw perpetually set, Riley’s portrayal doesn’t have this chief waiver, as the fluid situation changes from minute to minute.

The point is actually reinforced as the normal 9-5 banalities creep into the deadly endeavor. Not missing a beat, she seamlessly resets back to the mission once the everyday passes. Just like we would in our work days, the effect is chilling.

H (Sophie Wu) and B (Hammed Animashaun) really amplify the sentiment. Supporting technical staff, they could as easily be manning the help desk lines at Apple, and in fielding the digital hiccups, the actors dole the cognitive dissonance. A macabre form of comic relief, Gillian is forced to operate on their level, and in resolution, achieves just as much denial. In turn, the commander sinks even further as a human being.

Then the counter argument arrives. Pep (Ivanno Jeremiah) not only has intelligence to throw off the parameters, but more problematic for Gillian, he carries a conscience. Children at the coordinates, Jeremiah’s passion gives a beating heart to the cold calculation. And against the green screen, getting to see a mom (Raghad Chaar) and her young daughter (Elysse Adil) doing their everyday overseas puts a face on the conundrum.

Inconvenient for sure, Gillian isn’t without feeling, though. She has her own body count calculations to make her case. Failure to act will mean more collateral damage when the target takes his show on the road.

Now Pep is forced to pause and any other nuance goes out the window with Ellie (Denise Gough). Up the chain of command, any need for battlefield calculation was settled long ago, and Gough digs in her heels with her righteous wrath. “Fix him,” she orders Gillian to address Pep’s doubt.

A messy business that doesn’t lend itself to easy answers. But maybe the only way to work out the morality is to accept the film’s warning message. Humans who cling to their humanity don’t soullessly deviate as easily as those who deny. So know the signs, the greater good is counting on you.




Another day at the office beginning, you grab your coffee, down breakfast, and over the phone, have a family squabble before getting down to business.

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