Noob Reviews: Mosul
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is Mosul?
Mosul is a recently released Netflix original war film, with elements of drama and action, in which we are introduced to Ninevah SWAT. A unit of elite law enforcement officers fighting the Daesh (known in the west primarily as ISIS) as they are driven from the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
Under the command of Major Jasem, the team are on a high priority mission when they come across Kawa, a twenty-one-year-old local police officer who has been on the force for two months. And his partner hunkered down in a police station about to be overrun by ISIS militants fighting to free several of their number under arrest for buying weapons with drugs. It is here that we join the team in their fight as they recruit Kawa to their cause.
For spoiler reasons, I will not go into the details as to what the high priority mission is.
Based off of the New Yorker article entitled The Desperate Battle To Destroy ISIS, which was published in January 2017. The film is unique in the way that it is:
Delivered from the point of view of the SWAT members.
Has a cast made up entirely of Arab actors.
Has all of its lines delivered in Arabic (with subtitles available for other languages like English etc.).
Mosul is also the first-ever Iraqi-spoken language production produced by Netflix. For those of you who may be curious, the two main languages in Iraq are Kurdish and Modern Standard Arabic.
What type of genre is the film?
Mosul fits perfectly into three types of film, delivering heavy elements of action, war and drama.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- The official trailer linked from Netflix’s YouTube channel -
Alternatively, you can also find Mosul on Netflix here.
When was Mosul released?
The Mosul we are looking at today was released a few weeks ago in November (26th November 2020 to be exact).
Please be aware there are several other films with the same name, most notably the 2019 film in which you see the war with ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) from the perspective of an Iraqi video journalist. You can find out more about that film here, and if you get a chance, I would highly recommend giving it a watch.
Who are some of the actors that we might know?
For a full cast listing, please see the official IMDB page here.
What did you think of Mosul?
At first, when seeing the trailer for Mosul I was genuinely intrigued as I love the history of war and the study of conflicts from a scholar’s point of view, and Mosul did not fail to deliver at all. Whereas Netflix is really pushing the action and war film theme, churning out some really poor entries time after time, with many leaving no lasting impression. Mosul is a diamond in the rough. Mosul is indeed a war film that hits all the right notes in the best of ways and is not only thought-provoking but at times moving too.
Having never been to Iraq myself, the scenes of the vast city of Mosul, the architecture and the surrounding lands were beautiful and really interesting to see. And although heavily war-torn, the various locations really come across as a brilliant backdrop for this story. The cinematography was brilliant, and there were no filler scenes that I can speak of. Every scene was meaningful, had a purpose and simply kept driving the story forward.
When it comes to acting, I love foreign films and trying to work out tones and emotions behind how foreign conversations are delivered. I found the Arabic language to be quite enthralling but will admittedly have to hold my hand up and say I was reading English subtitles so I could follow what everyone was saying. The actors though did a fantastic job and thoroughly gave their all to their lines, screen time and each other with the members of the SWAT team itself really portraying a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie. I would especially like to mention that Suhail Dabbach as Major Jasem did a fantastic job as the dark and brooding team leader. And Adam Bessa who played Kawa did a superb job of portraying a young officer who goes through a phase of questioning the very role he has played in the war with ISIS. And as he joins the SWAT team and follows them on their mission, begins to see the world around him with new eyes. And rises to the challenge to be all he can be in these uncertain times.
Personally, when it comes to the story, and especially the ending which I did not see coming at all. Mosul is a fantastic story that really takes a giant step away from the American saviour complex most modern American films stick with where if it wasn’t for them, nothing would ever get done. And it really ventures into the thoughts and feelings of the Iraqi people. The SWAT members. And their views on the Americans and their help. Although it is not preachy or politically motivated, some of the scenes take a look at the loss of life of the Iraqi civilians and destruction of their cities, something they need to rebuild and live with after the Americans have packed up and returned home or redeployed somewhere else. Such things really do give you pause for thought.
In addition to the above, the characters arcs were well done, there was a lot of backstories that laid out motivations and what drives different characters. And you could really feel the loss of team members as they are taken out. A really nice but quite sad moment of the film is where at the end, before the credits roll, there is a tribute to the real-life members of the Ninevah SWAT team that lists their names and when they died.
Last but not least as I mentioned the cinematography was fantastically done, as were the fight scenes and every scene seemed to have been put together with care and attention to detail which still did little justice to what the real-life members would have gone through. Yet Mosul, overall, is far from a mediocre film, in my opinion. And is something I will happily rave about and suggest as well worth a watch.
What rating would you give Mosul?
I would rate Mosul as a 4.6 out of 5 bananas.
With a well-crafted script, intense combat scenes and a profound and almost philosophical look at life on the frontline - from the perspective of the elite Iraqi unit and Iraqi civilians. Mosul delivers on so many levels. Whether it be human interest, entertainment value or drama. Admittedly there are aspects of the story which have been queried and adapted for movie purposes, but overall, Mosul is something I can rate extremely high. And is definitely a movie you will not regret watching.
Thank you very much for checking out the review. If you are interested in Mosul and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion. You can check it out on Netflix here.