Film Review: Tank 432

A group of mercenaries transporting a pair of prisoners are terrorized by mysterious forces in this claustrophobic thriller with a disappointing payoff.
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U.K. cinematographer Nick Gillespie makes his directing debut with this handsome but frustrating “Gotcha!” tale, most of which unfolds within the confines of a crippled Bulldog tank—hence the film's cryptic original title, Belly of the Bulldog.

The plot of Tank 432 is simplicity itself (until it's not): A group of mercenaries—young men and women under the command of tough-talking veteran Smith (Gordon Kennedy)—are marching two prisoners in hoods and orange jumpsuits across a bucolic but oddly depopulated stretch of countryside. They're on the run, but Gillespie isn't one for the kind of maid-and-butler dialogue that brings viewers up to speed on the backstory: It's up to the characters to deliver information through their terse dialogue, but the first thing you learn is that they have no idea what's going on either. In fact, as one of the prisoners—both women, as we learn when the hoods come off—later confesses, she can't remember anything prior to the events of that day. "Isn't that weird?" she snaps, and indeed it is, as are a whole lot of other things, notably the deformed creature we periodically glimpse in the distance, passively watching the proceedings and hissing.

Since most of the story unfolds within the cramped confines of an abandoned armored vehicle (taking refuge inside seemed like a good idea at the time, until the fugitives realize that the hatch has jammed), it's to the credit of Gillespie and his cast that the verbal action is sharp enough to compensate for the fact that the lot of them—minus the injured comrade they ungallantly abandoned because he couldn't walk—spend the film sitting in a tin can, cursing a colorful blue streak. (An obscene directive involving nylon underwear is especially memorable.) And never fear—after delivering one “What the...?” twist after another, in the end the film plays fair.

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