Socialist Worker

Shoot On Sight: a striking portrayal of racism today

by Alys Elica Zaerin
Issue No. 2116

After seeing Shoot on Sight on Saturday morning, this striking film played on my mind for the entire bank holiday weekend.

The story is loosely based on the police shooting of innocent Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005. It is clear that director Jag Mundhra has an acute understanding of the context into which he has released the film – one where racism and especially Islamaphobia is prevalent across Britain.

Had I been watching this film in my own living room I would have been yelling – possibly hurling things – at the screen due to the incredibly poignant portrayal of racism in Britain since 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afganistan.

Islam and Muslims are consistently vilified and discriminated against in British society, whether it be in the media or through police attitudes.

The film is based on the experiences of a Muslim police commander who has to deal with the gross misconduct of fellow police officers, racism, and the radicalisation of Muslim relatives.

It is a massive tribute to the script, directing and especially the acting that I felt any sympathy for the main character who, as it is put in the film, is 'a policeman who happens to be a Muslim and not a Muslim who happens to be a policeman'.

Through an unlikely chain of coincidences the film comes to a dramatic conclusion centred around the dialogue between two main characters about Islam, death, innocence and choice.

I won't spoil the ending but it is very oversimplified. What was a sensitively acted film turns into a cliched triumph of good over evil.

I expected this film to be trigger happy and macho, but in fact it has fairly powerful moments. Its portrayal of the attacks on civil liberties is important for us today.

Shoot On Sight directed by Jag Mungra is in cinemas now


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Reviews
Tue 26 Aug 2008, 20:58 BST
Issue No. 2116
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