Bravo Two Zero – Special Forces week

Bravo Two Zero is currently available on instant Netflix.

Bravo Two ZeroBravo Two Zero (1999) – Rated R

“Based on Sgt. Andy McNab’s riveting book of the same name, this dramatic BBC miniseries tells the true story of a Special Operations mission to destroy Saddam Hussein’s SCUD missile bases during the Gulf War in 1991. The eight-man patrol, the most decorated in the British service since the Boer War, faced communications breakdowns, enemy attack and freezing weather without adequate gear. Conditions were so severe, not all of them returned.”

“Under the Geneva Convention, I’m afraid I cannot answer that question.” – “Fool! We are not in Geneva.”

First I have to confess that I really like Sean Bean and he is never better than when he is playing a fantasy warrior. He has played the emotionally torn Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring, the righteous but unyielding Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, and the naive yet devious Ulrich in the underrated Black Death. All are the same archetype yet all are very different individually – that is the mark of a good actor. This week I’ll get to see Sean Bean as a more modern warrior in this and Age of Heroes.

Bravo Two Zero wastes little time as the team is called up and, after a few minutes, moves straight into the planning phase of the mission. Bravo Two Zero is based on the book of the same name by Andy McNab (played by Sean Bean in the film). It tells the true story of an eight-man SAS team dropped behind-the-lines in Iraq with 209-lb packs (yes, being a former hiker, that was the detail that impressed me.).

The script has plenty of wonderful military detail without becoming too bogged down in jargon. Since Bravo Two Zero is autobiographical, we get a lot of Sean Bean voice-over. It might have played a little more dramatically without but who am I to quibble. Almost the entire story is told from McNab’s point of view. While this is laudable, it leaves out some very interesting events that are concurrent but not witnessed by McNab.

Author’s Note: In addition to McNab’s book, other people involved wrote somewhat conflicting accounts of this patrol. The Real Bravo Two Zero, Eye of the Storm, Soldier Five, and The One That Got Away.

I really liked that the BBC production managed to trod the fine line between showing torture and reveling in it. Some of the scenes are, of course, hard to watch. The fire fights could have used a little Hollywood punch but were quite adequate. Bigger battles use Gulf War file footage.

All in all, Bravo Two Zero is a little dry but a worthwhile watch.