The latest film from writer/director Tom Paton follows a different direction to his previous output, being a full-on action flick.
Noah (Andrew Lee Potts) is part of a British army team escorting some high-tech missiles across Northern Afghanistan. He has the all-important guidance chips, guarding them literally with his life. The Taliban hijack the convoy, but Noah, assuming the team has been killed, manages to escape with the chips despite being shot. He manages to make it to an outpost manned by two soldiers holding the fort while the rest of their team are on manoeuvres. Noah reaches out to one of the men, a Gurkha named Rana (Jean-Paul Ly), to help him fend off the oncoming attack.
As well as 400 Bullets allowing us to see a new string to Paton’s bow, it also gives us Potts in all-out action mode. It’s only later on in the film where the actor’s trademark quips come into play, and even then, it’s very restrained. The powerful theme of honour and loyalty is pushed to the fore as Potts and Ly begin to trust each other and fight for what is right, which is why they signed up. It’s a fast-paced action film, but it doesn’t skimp on some powerful storytelling. The treatment of soldiers in the field - and how they are often unsupported and disposable after they complete their tours of duty - adds a human element alongside the realistic and painful-looking injuries the characters receive. These are soldiers running on adrenaline and determination rather than inhuman supermen, which adds to the realism. That’s not to say that the fights are not OTT and bombastic.
With 400 Bullets, Tom Paton confirms his position as a director to watch, bringing us an indie film that can easily sit shoulder to shoulder with larger budget Hollywood efforts. It boasts a tight script, believable and well-acted characters and plenty of no-nonsense action scenes. There’s plenty of blood for the horror fans and a lot of heart to keep it grounded.