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Here Be Dragons

The Dark Belgradian Knight

22nd August 2022

In Alastair Newton Brown’s feature writing and directorial debut Nathan Sapsford (“Home and Away (TV)”, “Juke Box Hero”) plays David Locke, a former soldier turned war crimes investigator who has one last job to truly satisfy a 25-year itch.

We begin in Bosnia and Locke is a young soldier for the UN who has fallen in love with a local, despite her family’s disapproval. A little while later, there is a trade being made. The UN have a couple of guys and opposite is a truck of women and, the men say, one shot-up guy in the back of a dumper truck.

The men aren’t happy with the trade but say they can have the nearly dead man, providing Locke goes in to get him. He does, unwittingly and not without some upheaval (and taking his jacket and weapon off), and it turns out to be the brother, Emir, of the woman he’s in love with.

Locke knows what this means, but wants Emir to tell him what happened, he can only mutter they’re all dead, shot. Locke loses it and points his gun in the face of the man in he sees as responsible, Jovan Petrovic, Slobodan Bestic (“Jedini izlaz (TV)”, “Moja Generacija Z (TV)”), but he can’t pull the trigger.

Fast forward some 25-years and Locke is now a war crimes investigator and has helped bring many involved in Bosnia to trial at The Hague. However, Petrovic eluded him, he died before he could find him, cancer.

Or so Locke believed until Emir, Svetislav ‘Bule’ Goncic (“Istine i lazi (TV)”, “Our Little Clinic – Serbia (TV)”), now in a wheelchair, thinks he’s found him and wants Locke to bring him in.

Locke agrees, this is the man who he blames for killing his love. He heads back to the Balkans where he meets Mira Vuckovic, Marija Bergam (“Vreme zla (TV)”, “12 reci (TV)”), the man who they believe is Petrovic’s ex-wife.

He quickly gets to know both her, a singer in a bar, and Petrovic, now a ‘healer’ helping veterans overcome things like PTSD. Is this the man that escaped him all these years? Is this the man who murdered his love all those years back? Can he finally get the justice he’s been seeking for 25-years?

Here Be Dragons is a slow-paced movie, almost noir speed, as Locke makes his way through Belgrade. The scenery suits the mood of the movie and Alastair Newton Brown handles the camera well. Here Be Dragons is nothing if not beautifully shot.

I also liked the idea of the story, not your typical revenge story, one in which our protagonist wants justice through the courts, not the type of justice we usually see in Hollywood movies, kill everyone, let someone else sort out the mess.

However, sadly, a couple of things let Here Be Dragons down. The first is that this seeking justice in the courts goes nowhere and we end up with, what has to be said, quite a bad shoot-out instead.

Secondly is the whole tone of the movie. Sapsford wanders around in his three-quarter length coat (seemingly never taking it off) and chain-smoking like each one is his last (though only ever taking one or two drags before stubbing it out), talking like he’s smoked 90-a-day.

We’ve seen this sort of look before, think Sherlock, Broadchurch and plenty of others, and we have definitely seen the grumpy investigator with revenge in his heart before, unfortunately not only have we seen it before, we’ve seen it done much, much better. Sapsford can’t quite convince that this has consumed him for 25-years, you don’t get that this his world, nothing else will do.

The movie falters trying to get this across and it leaves any tension in its wake. You’re not on the edge of your seat wondering who is who, what is what or whether it will all work out, instead the movie sort of shuffles you towards the finale, one lightly smoked cigarette at a time.

DETAILS

  

RELEASE DATE
24th August 2022

DIRECTED BY
Alastair Newton Brown

WRITTEN BY
Alastair Newton Brown

Running Time:
2h 1m

THE QUICK SELL
A war crimes investigator goes to Belgrade to hunt a man whom everybody thought was dead.

CAST & CREW
Alastair Newton Brown, Marija Bergam, Nathan Sapsford, Slobodan Bestic, Svetislav 'Bule' Goncic

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DETAILS

  

RELEASE DATE
24th August 2022

DIRECTED BY
Alastair Newton Brown

WRITTEN BY
Alastair Newton Brown

Running Time:
2h 1m

THE QUICK SELL
A war crimes investigator goes to Belgrade to hunt a man whom everybody thought was dead.

CAST & CREW
Alastair Newton Brown, Marija Bergam, Nathan Sapsford, Slobodan Bestic, Svetislav 'Bule' Goncic

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