Tigerland review

If Joel Schumacher thinks he's doing anything radically new here, then he's fooling himself. Tigerland simply yomps over territory already ridiculously well covered by everything from Private Benjamin to Full Metal Jacket.

The training is dehumanising, sergeants are a mix of bluff father figures and sadistic thugs and the training platoon privates are standard-issue selection. Matthew Davis and Colin Farrell fill the roles of sensitive soul and barrack-room rebel, but you don't have to look far for the Working-Class Simpleton, the Lippy Youngster, the Nervous Breakdown Waiting To Happen and the Psychopath. The only thing missing is the Platoon Joker...

Much has been made of Schumacher's use of hand-held cameras and gritty film stock, but to be honest he's hardly re-inventing himself. Sure, it knocks some of the surface shine off his overly glossy style, but it's not exactly Blair Witchian guerrilla film-making. For all the occasional camera shakes and blurry panning, there's still a huge cast of extras running around, the shots are still meticulously planned and Mr S still sticks to a thumpingly conventional three-act story structure.

So a fairly standard, fairly likeable, fairly bland movie then? Yes, for the reasons outlined above. No, because of one Colin Farrell. If one thing makes this a should-see-now rather than a wait-for-the-video movie, it's the former Ballykissangel star. Trading in his Irish accent for a Texan drawl, Farrell takes Tigerland by the scruff of the neck and shakes it to life. The young George Clooney/Russell Crowe looks are only part of the package - he's got the kind of relaxed, attention-commanding presence that screams "STAR!!". In two years time this man will be nicking parts from Cruise and Pitt. See him now...

A standard grunts-at-boot-camp movie gets promoted from basic training up to special forces status by one promising talent. Schumacher knows a gift horse when he sees one - he's already signed Colin Farrell up for his next movie, Phone Booth...


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