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MOSUL (L to R) Tarik Belmekki as "Youness," Qutaiba Abdelhaq as "Kamal," Mohamed Attougui as "Akram," "Adam Bessa as “Kawa," Mohimen Mahbuba as "Amir" and Is'haq Elias as "Waleed." Cr. JOSE HARO/NETFLIX © 2020.

Movie Reviews

‘Mosul’ review: Netflix war drama is a refreshing take on a familiar conflict

War may not change but the POV can.

Mosul on Netflix immediately lets audiences know what is in store. There is a chaotic gunfight complete with a person picking up a live grenade and throwing it back at his attacker. The war drama is set in the titular Iraqi city in 2017. Following the Nineveh swat team who are trying to save Mosul from ISIS, the film is based on true events and is in an Arab dialect unique to Iraq.

Title cards in the beginning foreshadow the over the top drama and action Mosul contains. The team asks a new member to join them within the first ten minutes. This seems surprisingly easy, until it becomes clear there is danger around every corner. This is a much more tension packed war movie than usual since death makes it easy to move up in seniority. 

Credit writer-direct Matthew Michael Carnahan for keeping the action more grounded than some may expect. This heightens the sense of danger while giving Mosul heart. What truly separates the film from others set in the same part of the world are its characters. Part of the allure of Mosul is the fact that it is people fighting for their homeland. They are not background characters or waiting for their American leaders. It is a refreshing take that puts the movie in a class by itself.

Mosul balance of action and drama makes for a well paced movie. The downtime between the action never is boring or seems like an attempt to pad the movie. Conversely, these moments are not used to add much to the story. The team – and by extension, the viewer – are kept in the dark as to the real purpose of the mission. This does manufacture drama since each encounter is unexpected. But it also negatively impacts a key dramatic scene since there is no added gravity to what the team is doing. 

Mosul is a tight war drama that provides its audiences a different perspective in a familiar setting. The story combines action and drama nicely. This is done well thanks to the more personal touch afforded to its characters. Things move along in a way that is tense and exciting.  There are some missteps along the way, but it is an interesting watch.

Mosul premieres on Netflix on November 26.

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