Tank 432 (2016)
Written & Directed by Nick Gillespie
A group of soldiers fights an enemy unseen. They tow a couple hooded prisoners in orange jumpsuits along behind them. The war is happening in what appears to be the English countryside. They stumble across scenes of massacres, other soldiers killed in brutal and obscene manners. On the run from a strange figure that appears seemingly out of nowhere, the group holes up in an abandoned British bulldog tank in a field. As their minds begin to splinter and they are plagued with disturbing dreams, the dreaded reality of the situation starts to become clear.
Tank 432 is a massive disappointment of a possibly fantastic concept. Writer-director Nick Gillespie has collaborated with Ben Wheatley on his projects and strikes out on his own, with Wheatley producing. Michael Smiley, a Wheatley regular even tags along. But their pedigree can’t lift this film out of the utter mess it becomes. The biggest problem is this movie introduces lots of mystery, but when it finally gets to the payoff, it sputters and fizzles in one of the most disappointing conclusions I’ve seen in awhile.
A large error in the script is the lack of character development. Once a character is introduced that’s simply it. There are no apparent arcs, no one grows or changes in reaction to the horror and paranoia around them. They just seem to keep doing what they do with no real consequence to the events of the story. Our default protagonist, Reeves (Rupert Evans), starts out as a shaky, frightened soldier. He ends the film as a trembling, frightened soldier.
There are some well-edited dream sequences, Gillespie has an eye for evocative images and how to edit them in juxtaposition. As camera operator on Ben Wheatley’s work, he is responsible for much of the powerful imagery of those films. But what he lacks that Wheatley has in spades is a strong focus on themes and developing them through characters. I would be hard pressed to explain what exactly Tank 432 is attempting to say. There seems to be a comment on war going on…but it feels paper thin. There’s a possible message related to the military industrial complex…but it might not be. The film might be about the nature of human perception of reality and how we are locked into routines and fail to see the truth. There should be a great story and characters to go along with the base premise of Tank 432. Instead, it all feels ultimately pointless