By Gerry McCarthy, The Irish Times

“Anyone lucky enough to have had a seat at the Dublin Film Festival screening of ‘For Queen and Country” last September will know what to expect… a superbly crafted contemporary thriller with a sharp political undertow

The film is (Stellman’s) first as director, although he wrote the screenplay for ‘Defence of the Realm’, an excellent political thriller starring Gabriel Byrne… It showed his concern with using classically accessible forms like the thriller, complete with all the action and tension that drive a movie on, to explore the political map of Thatcher’s Britain. With ‘For Queen and Country’ Stellman has achieved the best marriage yet between the impeccable production values and Method-inspired intensity of Hollywood and the cutting social edge of a writer like, say Hanif Kureishi.

It’s not agitprop, and it’s not entertainment. But it entertains, it makes you think and it reveals some of the deeply divisive wounds that scar contemporary Britain. In doing so, ‘For Queen and Country’ shows a way forward for Irish cinema as much as for British.

Denzel Washington plays Reuben, a black kid from South London who returns after nine years in the army to find a changed society. He too has changed, which some of his old friends find hard to accept. Reuben has fought in the Falklands and been decorated: he thinks of himself as British, as someone who has served his country well. Instead he finds himself harassed by racist cops, treated with the same casual contempt and constant distrust as other blacks…. Reuben stoically treats the racist taunts as merely isolated incidents, until a bureaucratic decision to withdraw his British passport because of his Caribbean birthplace pulls the rug out from under him. He realises that because of his skin colour, the country he’s served will never accept him. And he looks for a way to fight back.

‘For Queen and Country’ is constructed with a classical precision, with echoes of everything from ‘Othello’ to ‘High Noon’. Stellman (has) consciously modelled his film on the dynamics of the great Westerns and tried to embody Western themes in a vastly different setting…. If you want to see a black Clint Eastwood leaving the Paras, discovering his tragic flaw among the high rises of South London and ending up somewhere between ‘Shane’ and ‘Taxi Driver’, check out ‘For Queen and Country’. You won’t be disappointed”