Shoot On Sight

2008, Movie, NR, 112 mins


Shoot on Sight, Greta Scacchi, Naseerudin Shah
In this timely if pedantic thriller, a Muslim police officer is forced to confront racism and religious intolerance when he's chosen to head up the investigation of a police shooting in the London Underground.

The killing of suspected terrorist Baqir Hassan (Avtar Kaul) leaves the London police in the middle of a public relations nightmare. Hassan's family insists Baqir was an artist with no connection to Islamic radicals, and accuse the police of racial profiling. Scotland Yard's media savvy Daniel Tennant (Brian Cox) puts Commander Tariq Ali (Naseeruddin Shah) in charge of the investigation and all-but promises a promotion is Tariq helps calm the volatile situation. Though a devout Muslim born in Lahore, Pakistan, Tariq is thoroughly assimilated, married to a white Englishwoman (Greta Scacchi), the father of two thoroughly westernized children and fiercely devoted to the police department. But Tariq's loyalty is put to the test: The more he digs, the more it appears that the Hassan family is right – Baqir was an apolitical, law abiding student who failed to comply with police orders because he didn't hear them over his mp3 player. Tariq's increasingly troubled home is no refuge: His rebellious daughter (India Wadsworth) gets herself arrested at a rave and his nephew, Zaheer (Mikaal Zulfikar), a university student who recently came to live with the Alis, has become involved with radical imam Junaid (Om Poori), who was Tariq's childhood friend. Resentful co-workers Harry Marber (Ralph Ineson) and John Shepherd (Stephen Greif) are trying to undermine Tariq at work, and to top it all off, a pair of beat cops stumble onto a real terrorist plot while responding to a routine call about noisy neighbors.

Indian-born director Jag Mundhra, who once made nothing but unabashed exploitation movies, now alternates them with topical films inspired by real events involving South Asians. This one tackles England's "shoot on sight" anti-terrorist policy, which was implicated in the shooting by London police of a Brazilian electrician shortly after the 2005 suicide bombings in the Underground. Written by Carl Austin, Mundra's frequent collaborator, it's earnest, well-intentioned and scrupulously even-handed, in the style of made-for-TV problem movies. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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