A Man Called Joe

Eriq Ebouaney in The Front Line (2006)

Having been tortured in his native Congo, Joe Yumba (Eriq Ebouaney) manages to reach Ireland where he is granted asylum status and find work which he does as a security guard working at a bank. On top of that the immigration people come to him saying they have found his wife and son and they bring them to his small flat where like him suffer the same nightmares as to what they went through back home. But then Irish gangster Eddie Gilroy (James Frain) kidnaps his wife and child and holds them hostage, forcing Joe to be the inside man on a bank job. But Joe is not going to let anything happen to his family and no one is going to stop him from rescuing them.

Less is more when it comes to this review of "The Front Line" for the simple reason David Gleeson who wrote and directed "The Front Line" is a master of building a story and to reveal too much would spoil it. As such we meet Joe Yumba, we don't know where he has come from but quickly appreciate that he is grateful of being given permission to stay but also that he is haunted by what happened in the country with the visual scars all over his back. Later on in the movie we learn more about Joe, we learn where he is from but we also get another slice of mystery when it comes to the woman and child who arrives as Joe tells them that they must be family now. As such when Joe gets threatened by Gilroy and his men you know it isn't going to be straight forwards and immediately it isn't as the police having trailed Gilroy pull Joe in for questioning.

Now I have told you barely anything and what I have told you doesn't even go past the opening 30 minutes so there are a lot of elements still to come and trust me it becomes more and more fascinating and entertaining as we learn more and more about Joe. On the subject of Joe we have Eriq Ebouaney a name which you may not recognize but then you look through the list of movies he has been in and end up surprised. I say surprised because he deserves to be leading a lot more movies as he has that skill as an actor to speak volumes with just the smallest change of expression. It is the same with Fatou N'Diaye who just has a way of expressing the emotion her character is feeling with just the smallest change of expression.

What this all boils down to is that "The Front Line" is a hidden gem, a movie which seems to have slipped under the radar when it deserves to be better known. It has everything with writer and director David Gleeson doing a brilliant job of telling a story which evolves over the course of the movie whilst Eriq Ebouaney delivers an equally fantastic performance.

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