When ISIS attacked Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, the 30,000 strong Iraqi army fled the city leaving the local population to their fate. The only unit of Iraqi government forces to stand and fight was the elite Nineveh SWAT Team.
The fierceness of the fighting between the insurgents and Nineveh led to ISIS hunting down the SWAT team's families left behind in the chaotic city. ISIS exacted a terrible revenge on anyone connected to the unit. When Iraqi government forces regrouped to take the city back from the insurgents, Nineveh SWAT led the charge into the wartorn city.
Mosul opens with a fierce battle between ISIS and besieged Policemen in a city cafe. This scene sets the pace for the rest of the movie; it's fast, brutal and totally engaging. In many ways Mosul follows the ‘Band Of Brothers' formula for action scenes and storytelling. The story is linear and focuses on a small unit with a defined mission.
The Nineveh SWAT Team is comprised solely of soldiers whose families have been murdered by ISIS. It gives the team a unique bond and motivation to fight. The team distrusts other army units and fights mostly alone, and deep behind enemy lines.
Mosul is the feature film directorial debut of screenwriter Matthew Carnahan, he previously worked on World War Z starring Brad Pitt. The frantic energy and tension of smash zombie flick World War Z is also present in Mosul. The action never dips, and storytelling is straightforward and compelling.
The film is a rarity as it depicts the conflict using Iraqi characters, based on Iraqi units and not American forces and actors. The film is shot in Arabic using Middle Eastern, North African and Arabic speaking actors. One of Iraq's leading actors, Suhail Dabbach plays Major Jasem, the cynical old soldier who mentors and motivates his men.
Adam Bessa plays Kawa, the young police officer drafted into the SWAT unit following a botched arrest. Major Jasem and the young recruit's interplay allows for some much-needed exposition in the often chaotic conflict. Both actors give standout performances.
Overall, this is a fantastic action/war movie that offers crucial insight into a misunderstood conflict. It avoids many of the war movie cliches and remains thoroughly entertaining. Mosul, like another cracker – The Outpost – is a movie that deserves to find a broad audience – don't allow the subtitles to put you off watching this gem from Netflix!