Bravo Two Zero (1999)



Director:  Tom Clegg. 

Starring:  Sean Bean (Andy McNab), Steve Nicolson (Dinger), Rick Warden (Tony), Richard Graham (Mark), Ian Curtis (Baz), Jamie Bartlett (Ray), Robert Hobbs (Stan), Ron Senior Jr. (Pete), Robert Whitehead (Iraqi Colonel).

true story of British SAS mission behind enemy lines



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

True story.  Hereford.  January 1991.  In the Gulf War the British plan a SAS patrol behind enemy lines.  SCUD missiles from Iraq are being fired into Israel.  The Allies do not want Israel to enter the war because this would threaten the Allies alliance with the Arab countries.  Eight British SAS men prepare to leave Great Britain to take the assignment.  They have to say goodbye to their wives and children. 

Allied base.  Saudi Arabia.  Andy McNab will lead the eight man patrol.  Their mission is to travel to the MSR (main supply route) to locate and destroy the fiber-optic cable used for Iraqi communications and to destroy the mobile SCUD.  Their call sign is Bravo Two Zero. The men will each carry 209 pounds of equipment.  They are dropped by helicopter in northern Iraq.  While there they see a SCUD launched on its way to Israel.  They also find that the MSR is little more than a wide strip of sun-baked sand. 

As a surprise to the SAS men, they find a lot of Iraqi soldiers in the immediate area.  They take cover in a gulley.  A young shepherd boy driving his small herd of goats accidentally discovers them.  He runs to tell a group of Iraqi soldiers.  The SAS men decide that they have to leave the area immediately.  Luckily for them, the Iraqi soldiers do not take the boy's reported sighting seriously.  The boy, however, is persistent and he stops an Iraqi soldier in a jeep who actually believes him.  The soldier alerts other Iraqi soldiers.  A couple of armored vehicles and a tank start out after the enemy. 

The SAS are well-prepared in armaments to oppose the Iraqis.  Without losing a man, they repulse the Iraqi attack, but their radio is completely destroyed.  The British force decides that they should abandon their immediate mission and head north to the border with Syria and safety.  The men, however, run into a terrible storm.  The wind is blowing hard and in the confusion three of the men (Tony, Baz and Dinger) get cut off from Andy and four others.  During the night it actually snows and Mark comes down with hypothermia. 

As the group of five draw closer to the border they get into a fire fight with the Iraqis there.  The enemy fire is so heavy that two SAS soldiers jump into the river and head downstream away from the firing.  Andy and Mark are soon isolated.  They decide to make a run past the Iraqis.  In the attempt Mark is hit and presumed dead by Andy.  Andy is able to escape.  He walks along an road and get within two kilometers of the Iraqi/Syrian border when he has to take cover under a tiny bridge over a small stream.  He decides to remain there until dark.  But a truck stops at the bridge and the Iraqis search the area.  Andy is soon spotted and dragged out from under the bridge. 

Now begins a horrendous series of tortures for Andy.  The Iraqis keep insisting that he is an Israeli.  Andy is soon joined by his colleague Dinger who is also tortured.  And finally their friend Stan is thrown in with them and he is subject to the same tortures as the other two.  After a great deal of torture, Andy makes up a story that is close enough to the truth without revealing the truth that his captors believe it.  So Andy, Dinger and Stan are put in a military prison. There they are abused some more, but there is no more formal torture. 

The Iraqis report to the captives that a British soldier made it into Syria and the Syrians say he is SAS.  After this, Dinger and Stan are released, but Andy has to stay.  Andy finds his stay hard because now he is completely isolated in the prison.  Some 200,000 Iraqi soldiers willfully surrender to the Allied forces.  Andy is released.  

In an Allied hospital, Andy sees his friend Mark in a hospital bed.  He is very happy to know that the presumed-dead Mark has actually survived. 

March 10, 1991.  Andy greets his young daughter and his wife at the door of his house. 

Of the eight men who started the patrol, five returned.


An o.k. movie.  The obligatory camaraderie scenes at the start of the film were extremely marred by the heavy use of British slang.  My wife and I are native speakers of American English, but we did not know the meaning of most of the myriad of military and non-military slang terms used in the movie.  (We were using the English subtitles, but I still told my wife that they should have had short definitions of the slang terms.  She agreed.)

I quickly grew tired of the long series of torture scenes in the movie.  The action sequences were much shorter in duration.  There was nothing special about the acting or the script. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:


See Courage Under Fire (1996)



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