I watched the debut of "Dirty War" on HBO last night. This was a 90-minute movie made by the folks over at the BBC which showed what a so-called "dirty bomb" would be like if detonated in Liverpool.
The first part of the movie was spent showing the set-up for the attack, as well as a crash course in Islamic terror cells to a young Muslim police detective. This put a face on the enemy, instead of them just being unknown hooded thugs. There was also the inevitable "human condition" storylines that had to be developed, such as the government officials who try to put on a brave face to their legislative overseers while knowing that they're just biding time, or the fireman and his wife. The terrorist plot begins to unfold when a couple of terrorists scold an Islamic mother's daughter for how she dressed. She suspects something's up with them, so she watches, and then calls the police. The pieces start getting put together, but unfortunately it's not in time to stop the first bomb from going off.
The last third of the move is spent in the immediate aftermath of the detonation. Watching the effects of detonation reminded me too much of the spectator accounts in New York during 9/11. It was very disturbing, even without seeing bloodshed. People start wandering about, seeing smoke, not realizing that they're already exposed to radiation. Government agencies try to contain the crowds and stop a panic, but you know that doesn't work. Watching people go through mass decontamination was equally disturbing (and not for kids, in case you're wondering).
I won't give away how it finishes, but the last part seemed all too numb. I realize that London is used to dealing with terrorist attacks thanks in no small part to the Irish Republican Army, but I really don't think that the kind of attack that was being shown was something that could be easily dismissed just a couple of weeks later. I mean Americans still have a hard time dealing with the site of the World Trade Towers. Imagine three square miles of prime real estate suddenly being unbearably radioactive for the next three decades! Do you really think the British people would simply shrug and say "buggers, oh well, back to work" after only two weeks?
I also think that 90 minutes was too short for that kind of story. It should have been at least two hours. Not because I’m a sadist, but because they spent too much time for the setup and then when it came to the immediate after-effects they just rushed things through.
Still, I think that this is an important movie for people to see so they can understand the kind of evil that we are facing. By all means, if you have HBO, you SHOULD see this one at least once. This is the kind of thing that every city around the world has to deal with.