Back in 2015, Boris allegedly found the time to pen a film script and then distributed it to a few people, hoping, one assumes, for a commission. The PM is yet to confirm he is the author, but it is written in classic Boris prose and I got to see it this week. “Here is the new blockbuster: Mission to Assyria”, he writes, beginning a hilariously awful pitch for a movie (allegedly, there is a full script to accompany it. Sadly, they didn’t keep a copy).
“It all springs from my rage and disbelief at the destruction of places like Hatra and Nimrud and Nineveh … I cannot abide the apathy of the west,” he writes as way of passionate introduction. Worthy sentiments, written just as Palmyra was about to be pulverised by Islamic State. I just have my doubts that a “glorious wish-fulfillment dream movie, a mixture of Golan-Globus and Raiders of the Lost Ark”, was the right way to enact that revenge. Especially when the lead man is called Marmaduke Montmorency Burton… It is safe to say we will not be seeing this film debut anytime soon at the London Film Festival.
“A glorious wish-fulfillment dream movie, a mixture of Golan-Globus and Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
“So, I imagine”, continues Boris of his opening scenes… “We begin with a sickening montage of atrocities: beheadings of innocent people in orange jumpsuits, torchings of Shias, rapes of Yazidi women, and footage of the smashing and the demolition of the Assyrian cities… These bestial crimes are orchestrated by a horrible cologne-drenched jihadi with an air of mincing menace.”
Marmaduke, meanwhile, is a slack-jawed archaeologist, in Johnson’s imagination an “old Clooney/Connery/Eastwood type geezer in his fifties,” with SAS connections. The female lead, an archaeologist, is “gorgeous but scholarly” (naturally). He hopefully suggests Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson.
“These bestial crimes are orchestrated by a horrible cologne-drenched jihadi with an air of mincing menace.”
I mean, you would, wouldn’t you? And so it goes on: there’s a crew of other characters that make up his Magnificent Seven, the swashbuckling explorers and scholars, gathered by Angelina/Scarlett, from dusty libraries and centres of learning.
The mission of this motley crew of heroes is to rescue Shargar, the long-lost city of Tiglath-Pileser III in Syria, from the advancing evil of Islamic State. Admittedly the plot gets a bit thin from here. There are some battles, the Magnificent Seven are betrayed and captured. There’s no snogging, which is a bit disappointing. It’s liberally smothered in cliché, with a storyline that rollicks on with happy teenage abandon.
The female lead, an archaeologist, is “gorgeous but scholarly” (naturally). He hopefully suggests Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson.
The sound effects are straight from the Spitfire battles of a prep school dorm: “Dugga dugga dugga thwok thwok thwok” go the helicopters. People are routinely beheaded, in battles jihadis are “spifflicated” with a shovel. Spifflicated? I do like the moment Angelina/Scarlett tells Marmaduke he’s a wimp. Grizzled Marmaduke does, however, save the day in the end. Angelina is too merciful, too feminine to kill the cologne-drenched jihadi so it is left to Marmaduke to finish him off — “Aaargh. Splatteroo”.
I’d like to advise our Prime Minister to stick to the day job. Trouble is, I’m not a fan of his storytelling there either.