It’s a man’s world; ruthless and exacting where men kill without flinching. In the blink of an eye, bullets fly like a torrent out of nowhere and extract a human price. The first few rushes, flattened buildings, have devastation writ all over, reminding us what and how prosperous cities such as Mosul turned into ruins.
Though we know who to blame for the havoc; the superpower or the dreaded terror organisation, Mosul doesn’t indulge in any blame-game and does not reiterate the obvious. The politics of the place nay the country of Iraq is for you to connect. No grandstanding here, only a few one-liners in the opening credits sum up the background. The narrative stays with Nineveh SWAT team led by a bunch of determined Iraqi men out to get the members of the dreaded ISIS, whose brutality needs no introduction. But for one scene where ISIS men use civilians as shields, you can only feel their monstrosity and not see it graphically.
While the closing credits tell you, it is based on a New Yorker article The Desperate Battle to Destroy ISIS by Luke Mogelsen, which says it all, the film is about the economy of words. Who is on the right side and who is on the wrong, no words are needed to enumerate the line of righteousness. Actions speak louder.
Major Jasem (Suhail Dabbach) the leader of the pack is as vindictive as merciful. And as he goes around killing his enemies and saving innocents, he picks up garbage everywhere he goes. Is there an analogy between this seemingly innocuous act and his larger purpose… Once again, it is for you to draw inferences. Fuss-free, clutter-free, filter-free, this one pitches forth the grit and power of few Iraqi men who become fewer as they come close to succeeding in their mission. What exactly is their mission, what does it all add up to… like the young police officer Kawa (Adam Bessa) who joins them after they save him, you don’t get the exact sense or nature of it in the beginning. Yet slowly and inexorably, you are drawn into their relentless pursuit of eliminating ISIS terrorists as they move closer to their target. The denouement is open-ended.
With an all-Arabic cast speaking in Arabic, it’s the subtitles that keep you clued in and expressions which prove that acting is a universal language. The action is as authentic as relentless. On target and intense, this, however, is not your average war or action film. Coming from the stable of Russo Brothers, who have given us spectacles like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Mosul might seem like a departure but a conscious one to present Iraqis as heroes and family men. And they emerge as real beings with a human face and emotions that touch you if not overwhelm you.