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Midlands Review - Loose Cannon

By midlandsmovies, Nov 13 2017 05:06PM

Loose Cannon (2017) Dir. Howard-Smith

Director Howard Smith presents Loose Cannon, a short film that follows recently discharged soldier Baz Locke (Simon Hawkins) as he struggles to adjust to civilian life.

We first see Baz travelling home on a train, face pressed against the window, calling his former partner Em [NAME WITHELD ON REQUEST]. The call doesn’t go as planned; Baz is keen to meet up however Em is not pleased to hear from him. The audience can only assume that Baz being in the Army was one of the factors as to why this relationship hasn’t worked.

After Em brushes Baz off on the phone we see the first example of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) come to the fore. A flashback of his dismissal causes him to lash out at the passenger opposite him. Before he’s even step foot in his hometown the warning signals are everywhere.

Whilst in town we see Baz visit his old friend and former soldier himself Jack (Gary Rogers), who offers advice on how to readjust now out of the army. Jack warns Baz off chasing Em down, saying she’s moved on but Baz is agitated however and bounces an idea off Jack.

Filmed on location around Birmingham, Loose Cannon benefits from this style of shooting as it gives the film a grounded reality. Something the audience can believe and really engross themselves in.

A reporter they both knew from the past might be interested in a story that’s been covered up by the government for years. A spate of suicides at Longmarsh Barracks were never investigated properly, Baz is adamant this was a cover up and teases to know why. And as events spiral out of control for Baz, he attempts to locate Em and expose a government cover up.

Shot and edited by Howard Smith himself, he uses several techniques early on to accompany Hawkins portrayal of a former soldier living with PTSD. An example of this appears early on in the film when on the train, Baz’s memory of being dismissed surges over him. This is edited in a frantic way, sounds are amplified and the colour is awash with a dark grade.

Loose Cannon reminded me of seeing Sly Stallone’s First Blood for the first time. A story about a man who has fought for his country, seen awful things during war, only to be discharged and seen as an unwanted nuisance in a peaceful town. Both Baz and John Rambo have fought for their freedom, only to be let down by their respective governments triggering their PTSD.

Whilst watching Loose Cannon, I made a comment to myself to look up whoever composed the score to see if their material was available online. To my surprise, the director here has used John Debney’s score for Sudden Death, a flawless choice which was used well in all the right place.

Overall Loose Cannon is a well-made 17-minute short film and another welcome addition to Smith’s previous work. Constructively I would like to see this film done as a feature if the chance ever arose so as to expand on the story more and explore the character Baz Locke better and his relationship with Em.

Some of the best feature films began their life as a short so maybe director Howard Smith is onto a winner.

You can watch the full short online on Vimeon here: https://vimeo.com/225168790

Guy Russell

Twitter @BudGuyer

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