Route Irish is a fast-paced conspiracy thriller that delivers a fresh insight into the moral and political corruption at play in Iraq. As well as exploring the abuses perpetrated by private security firms on the ground in Iraq, Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty (Looking for Eric, The Wind That Shakes the Barley) examine the effects of combat on security contractors – the new “soldiers” of modern warfare – who witness the horrors of combat and are subject to post-combat stress yet receive no support from the state upon return home.
Fergus (Mark Womack) returns to his native Liverpool for the funeral of his childhood friend Frankie (John Bishop), a fellow private security contractor who has been killed on Route Irish, the deadly and now infamous stretch of road between Baghdad airport and the Green Zone. Refusing to accept the official account of his best friend’s death, Fergus launches his own investigation, fuelled by the discovery of a cell phone on which Frankie had recorded the shooting of an innocent Iraqi family just days before his own death. As his investigation ramps up – via frequent skype conversations with former security colleagues in Iraq and his interrogation of security firm officials in the UK – Fergus soon draws the heat of those he is investigating and a once dirty foreign war is transferred to the streets of Liverpool and pursued on home turf.
Largely set and shot in Liverpool, Director of Photography Chris Menges (The Reader, The Killing Fields) expertly transports the stress and adrenaline of frontline combat to the film’s British locale through the use of frequent flashback sequences to the streets of Baghdad. Mark Womack, in his first film role following parts in high-profile TV dramas including Liverpool 1 and Sorted, leads the cast which includes renowned stand-up comedian John Bishop, Andrea Lowe (The Tudors) and Southern Kurdistan musician Talib Rasool. Route Irish is produced by Rebecca O’Brien with Executive Producers Pascal Caucheteux and Vincent Maraval.