What I’m Watching: The Siege of Jadotville (2017)

Typically when I think Netflix originals, I think of a whole host of small-scale films and series with plain concepts that appeal to those who don’t want to leave their beds. With the exception of products like “Stranger Things” and “Spectral,” I haven’t been too interested in what’s been offered on the site.

Enter “The Siege of Jadotville”, based on a forgotten battle and made just for Netflix. I went in slightly skeptical, thinking it wouldn’t match up to major war films like “Saving Private Ryan” or “13 Hours.” And while it might not reach such a high standard, it’s still top notch viewing.

The movie is set in 1961 after the assassination of the local prime minister in the Congo. With tensions rising, the British and Swedish governments dispatch a few troops to keep the peace while they work out things on the political side.

We follow Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan), commandant to a platoon of Irish soldiers stationed near the town of Jadotville, in the Congo. Their presence catches the attention of mercenaries who are protecting local mining companies. The platoon and mercenaries eventually clash, with the mercenaries seeing the platoon’s presence as a threat to the mining operations in the region. It becomes a tense fight for Quinlan to keep his platoon alive.

For the most part, the plot focuses on the troops through a simple but effective action siege premise. We spend some time getting to know the key players, and we see them put into a mostly isolated location and then showered with swarms of bullets. It’s done well in that you feel the pressure put on the soldiers. The situation gets more and more tense with every new engagement.

What I like most about the plot, though, is it’s setting. For me, it highlights a unique event in time that isn’t quite as well-known as the other major conflicts from the more infamous wars. The movie brings you up to speed on what was happening before putting you through the conflict.

Also, the acting is top notch with each character showing diverse personalities from each other. The actor I was kind of worried about was Dornan, purely because of the notoriety of being a part of the adaptation of the least sexy piece of literature ever conceived — “50 Shades of Grey.” But I was surprised; he does a solid job in a lead action role.

While not a groundbreaking performance, he shows the right intensity in the action scenes and has enough rallying speeches to get you on his side. Quinlan’s a leader who realizes how bad the situation can get and has to think on his feet quickly to stay on top. Dornan sells that well and carries the film.

On the action front, the movie is very good. The fights are captured well with wide camera shots. In this confined area, you still get an idea of scope on top of the closing threat of ever-increasing amounts of soldiers.

The battles reminded me of various war games I used to play, specifically the finale parts which involved holding position against increasing waves of enemies. The movie is similar to that in how the Irish troops are fighting with little ammo and less cover. The tension keeps tightening and tightening until they can find a way to push them back.

“The Siege of Jadotville,” the Netflix war movie, actually kind of surprised me. It’s an entertaining war film with a somewhat enlightening premise. It’s great to see a lesser-known part of war history get attention. And, in the end, it’s an exciting watch.

-Nick McCann