Strike Back Promotional Video – WTF?

There were dozens of screencaps made from the brief promo video titled, About Strike Back Origins,  but I didn’t see the images below in any of them.  These images show what I think is a decidedly discomfited Richard Armitage, made so by Dan Percival’s comment, practically cutting Armitage off, that John Porter “f-cked up.” The more I watch this scene the more convinced I am that Armitage wished Percival had used some other word, or just shut up. A moment earlier, he was looking at Percival speaking, then abruptly  when he heard the words, , turned away and looked down – way down, and then reached or moved forward, as though he couldn’t get far enough away.

I guess he hasn’t watched much Cinemax.  Just prior to the promo airing on TV, Cinemax aired a feature called Final Cut  which had Michael Fassbinder, Ridley Scott and javier Bardam talking about  their film The Counselor.  Explaining something or other about his performance, Javier Bardam says he just wanted to ” try not to f-ck it up,” then he said, ” I can say that, right?” Someone off screen answers, ” It’s encouraged.”

So, maybe that was what Dan Percival was remembering when he practically cut Richard Armitage off  twice as he was explaining the incident that got John Porter decommissioned and stated, “he f-cked up.” (Video is embedded at conclusion of Post)

SB-Hefuckedup

Richard Armitage looks down a moment after Dan Percival says about John Porter “[h]e f-cked up.”

SBhefuckedup2

Richard Armitage, eyes away from the camera, reaches away a moment after Dan Percival makes his statement. Dan Percival closes his eyes.

Dan Percival, himself,  didn’t seem that easy about his  choice of phrase- he mumbled it and closed his eyes, as if to wish it away.

I’m not suggesting that Richard Armitage doesn’t use the word in his every day life. I don’t know.  John Porter used it several times and just about everyone I know says it. I use it.  A lot.  But whatever the reason for his reaction, I thought Armitage wasn’t happy about it and to me, it showed. (Someone  might argue that he was upset by the characterization that what Porter did was wrong, but I would disagree).

The video was edited down to half its original length for the TV airing. We don’t know in  what order the conversation occurred, so we don’t know when this particular  colloquy took place relative to everything else, but I suspect it was early on, when they were describing the story and setting up the relationship between the first series and the current one. It makes, sense- first talk about the show- then give us some behind the scenes insight.

Poor editing also accounts for the odd opening of the video.  I didn’t know what to expect when I watched it, but I it sure wasn’t  an opening with Richard Armitage, in almost mid-sentence, talking about the scene in which John Porter shoved ( or carefully placed) a pen knife up  his “bum,” captioned, Richard Armitage’s favorite scenes from Strike Back Origins.”  Armitage broke into giggles as he recalled what must have been shock and disbelief on the Assistant Director’s face when he teased the A.D.  into thinking the actor was actually going to do it rather than act it. Too bad he did break up because we never got to hear the A.D.’s reaction,  though it was fun to watch Richard Armitage’s enjoy his own prank. He was more successful  in a piece that was cut, when, using irony, he says in words or substance , that Andrew Lincoln did great comedy playing Collinson ( is there a more humorless character?). He seems funniest with a quick retort or repartee.

You can’t get more behind the scenes (ahem) than a story like that, and Max shows a lot of this in their weekly bits between the stars of the current Strike Back.  Still, I was annoyed that this was how the clip opened.

But not as annoyed as I was that the piece was edited to half the size of the original. I get that time is a factor, but I thought the story about Andrew Lincoln pulling Richard Armitage back into the helicopter was the type pf thing Cinemax would like. Since Cinemax airs tidbits with their stars after each episode, it’s possible that more of the video will surface after episodes to come.

Dan Percival’s description of Collinson’s “complex” character seemed off to me – I never thought he was complex, and I detected amusement on Richard Armitage’s face as he listened to Percival. But not as much amusement as when he sat there and listened as Percival tried to tie together the  new and old series.

Overall, the two men did the job they were probably tasked with. It can’t be easy to be that enthusiastic about work you’ve done three years ago.

41 thoughts on “Strike Back Promotional Video – WTF?

  1. Considering what Cinemax did to butcher the concept of Chris Ryan’s Strike Back, which had its flaws and shortcomings, certainly, but came off looking positively friggin’ Shakespearean in comparison with the “new and improved (ha!) version they gave us for US TV–I am somehow not surprised at some sloppy, dodgy editing.

    As for the F word, yeah, former Sunday School teacher that I am, I sometimes use it, too, and I am sure RA does from time to time. I don’t think he’s totally comfy using it in interview situations,however, although Cinemax does encourage “cussin'” in their interviews. And I actually think he’s a bit protective of Porter and probably didn’t like how that was phrased, either. Just my opinion . . . interesting observations, Perry, thanks for sharing! Now I gotta get back to my paying work . . . *sigh*

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    • I remember Armitage saying in an interview that Porter thought he had done the right thing by not killing a child- but in fact, it was his not killing the child that led to the death of his comrades – led not caused.

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        • Though it wasn’t mentioned, the reason for showing him looking at Lexi’s picture just before the mission could have been to let us know he was a father, and that could have influenced his decision to spare a child.

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          • It probably has to do something with the connection of the work to Chris Ryan, who’s a cult figure in the UK. The series was an adaptation of the original novel, in which Porter’s relationship with his daughter plays a much bigger role; and the storyline about child as motivator for certain actions comes directly from Chris Ryan’s own military experiences in the early 1990s, which he adapted for Bravo Two Zero. British audiences would have been aware of these things because Ryan was quoted widely in the British press as saying wanting to see his daughter again was what gave him the motivation to survive his ordeal in the first Gulf War.

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            • Yes, agreed! Having read the book I’d definitely say Ryan saw Porter’s desire to return to his daughter as the impetus for sparing the boy’s life—mirroring the author’s own feelings. And Richard’s performance makes us feel that, the depth of his love for Lexie, even though the script gives somewhat short shrift to the relationship ( so we have to rectify that through fanfic ).

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        • Yes. I’ve been vague here in comments so as not to put in any spoilers. I can only guess what you’re hinting at, but as I aid in an earlier comment, his action of not shooting the boy ‘led”to ( but did not cause) the deaths of his men. Had he shot the boy, the boy would not have been in the hallway later. But why he didn’t do the “right thing” in the military sense is that he didn’t follow procedure. Based on what his superiors believed at the time, as well as what Porter believed, his failure to follow procedure – kill the boy, was what caused the tragedy.

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  2. I’m going to disagree on one point — I’ve listened to this several times now because it surprised me — I’m pretty sure he says “butt,” not “bum.” He’s doing the swallowed “t” in Auslaut thing that is common in certain segments of British society, so he essentially says “bu’.” The “m” is not swallowed in Auslaut in English speech.

    re: looking down — it’s a definite Armitage discomfort signal — from the very beginning of his interviews he does it, but I am not certain I agree or disagree. I will add as data the statement that he made in an interview, that when he saw the premiere and heard Porter’s wife say, “we’re better off without him,” that he felt genuinely upset and treated unfairly.

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    • I thought it sounded like”butt” also, but thought I misheard since the Brits were so sure he said bum. (I actually out that in parens)
      I don’t understand about the interview – Richard Armitage said he was upset that John Porter’s wife said, they [the Porters] were better off without him?

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      • Yes, in watching the production on the big screen (at that BAFTA screening they held in London as I recall) he said it was really a painful moment for him when Diane tells Collinson “we’re better off without him (John, who was presumed dead at that time).” I believe Richard said he thought to himself, “Poor John!” So did I, as a matter of fact. I was really angry with Diane at that point, I have to confess.

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      • he swallows the last consonant (the consonant in Auslaut) — I guess technically you’d say he creates the illusion of a consonant with his use of airstream rather than articulating it against alveola (for t) or lips (for m), which is customary in a lot of British speech registers for “t”, but not “m”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him cut off an “m”. I can imagine a British speaker would assume he said “bum” which is what he’d be expected to say, but I don’t think that’s what he says.

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    • Here for the quotation — it was in the full audio version of a Daily Express interview that David Stephenson (the man who has, IMO, done the best job of interviewing Armitage of any British journalist — Stephenson just “gets” him somehow) posted on his blog. Here’s a transcription.

      http://richardarmitagecentral.co.uk/main.php?g2_itemId=261616

      Note also the remark on the page before that he saw John Porter as someone he’d like to have been, even with all the flaws, someone better than him.

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      • I don’t know. I said I don’t agree or disagree with your interpretation. I’m just saying, don’t discount his level of identification with his characters, and provided some evidence for that case. In the case of Porter, it seemed to be extreme, and people commented on it at the time.

        I don’t think the swear words per se embarrass him when they’re not coming out of his mouth. During the first days of the Hobbit press tour, for instance, Freeman’s obscenity production seemed to be on overdrive. Armitage occasionally disagreed with him or whatever, but he didn’t show this same bodily reaction to it. So I don’t think, whatever conclusion we draw from this, that it’s as cut and dried as “embarrassment at profanity” OR “identification with a character to the point that criticism of him stings.”

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    • My interpretation was that he started saying “bum” which, as a Brit, would be his expression of choice but then possibly realised that the interview was for US consumption where “bum” would not be generally recognised, so swallowed the ending. The intonation of the “u” is quite different in the two words. If you don’t listen too carefully for the final consonant, it clearly sounds like “bum”.
      Given the comments about his apparent distaste for Perceval’s vocabulary, it’s telling that he uses “bum” (if you agree with that interpretation) rather than the rather cruder word “arse” (“ass”).

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      • He’s lived in the US for a while now. I’m sure he’s learned that even in the US we know what it means when someone with a British accent says “bum.”

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      • It’s cultural, I know, but as an American, the word “arse” always seems more polite than “ass.” Even though they are used exactly the same way, I equate arse with butt. What do Brits call the animal- an arse or an ass?

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        • Donkey! No, sorry, seriously, “ass” although rarely used.
          As for “arse”, I suppose if you hear someone with a Brit accent saying it, it does sound more proper than “ass”. Must be something to do with the long “aah” sound.

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    • I hear Butt also, and in the way you described. The way he looks down often in interviews is similar to how I have a conversation – but for me it is more away, than down. The reasons for mine have to do with discomfort with extended eye contact. He doesn’t have that problem. But in his expression – in Poker, wouldn’t that be called a “Tell”?

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      • “Tell” is a mannerism, so I guess it could fit. I think many people look down when they’re uncomfortable- think of all the stories with descriptions of someone”looking at their hands.” The trick with eye contact is to focus on the spot where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead. Not quite eye contact, but it looks like.

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  3. Incisive analysis! Well done! I’m linking to it via a comment on my SBO post.
    I hadn’t seen the interivew bit with Percival using the F word and RA’s reaction. Can’t say as I blame RA for being uncomfortable with Percival’s word choice (I do not use the word, ever)–let alone the implication that Porter somehow got what was coming to him.
    Porter decommissioned? What’s that? It seems like Lucas in Spooks 9 all over again–writers ticked that their star is going off to better things and they’re sticking it to him. Porter should have had a noble end, not the senseless violence that they showed. Thank god RA got out of that franchise before it came to the U.S. and made by Skinemax–and I’m a Yank!

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    • Thanks. That part of the interview was in both versions. Decommissioned, and it was Richard Armitage’s own word, means out of service, in this context I would guess mustered out of service.
      Whether Porter “got was coming to him,” you mean the decommissioning- objectively, the decision wasn’t unfair based on information known at the time , although in a real life situation he might have demoted reassigned out of SAS.

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  4. I believe only officers can be decommissioned, as in taking away their commission (hardware such as tanks or ships are also decommissioned when they have come to the end of their working lives). I think Richard should have said Porter was discharged.

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  5. The dialogue has Layla describing his status as ” off active duty,” and Collinson directing her to “reactivate him.” I think it;s clear that Richard Armitage wasn’t sure he was using the correct term, when he said, decommissioned as he hesitated. It was, after all three years ago since he looked at the script.

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  6. Pingback: Richard Armitage Legenda 102: Stuff worth reading | Me + Richard Armitage

  7. Yes, he had the choice of staying in service remember but chose to resign. Decommissioned does mean leaving but Layla refers to it as virtually being a dishonorable. He feels that he must atone for what he did but well can’t give away the facts here but as far as what he did that night I don’t feel he made the wrong move. What happened after was something totally different. I think he feels an affinity for John still and perhaps that is what made him duck his head at Percival’s comment. It wouldn’t be the word itself I’m sure. I wish we’d been able to see the entire interview and not what they spliced together for us. Oh they use the word decommissioned here most often for ships when they are taken out of service and will no longer be used at all. If John had truly been dishonorably discharged I can’t see how he could so easily have been reactivated. I don’t see Collinson as all that complex either. I certainly don’t see him as a very honorable man either I’m afraid. he is a spook though and he will do whatever he has to do in order to get what he wants.

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    • I think what Layla meant was that he was put into a position that forced him to resign. Although what happened doesn’t precisely fit the definition, it’s close to a constructive discharge. I think the word decommissioned is more familiar when it’s ships or tanks or other military machinery because that’s what you we about. We don’t hear about it when officers are decommissioned.

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      • Possibly Richard wasn’t clear about the correct term because none of the terms they use, as far as I see it, are accurate. Porter was a sergeant, ie a NCO (non-commisssioned officer) who as a professional soldier would have signed up for a period of, say, 15 years. By not adhering to his training and thereby, on the face of it, causing the death of his colleagues, he lost the trust of his unit where mutual trust is all. So he could no longer be actively/operationally SAS. His superior officer offered him a desk job which he refused, choosing to resign instead (the sub text being that he could have used his injury as a reason to get out of the job contract). So he leaves the army. End of. All the other terms they later use, such as “dishonourable discharge”, “re-activate” etc have to be wrong and used only for dramatic effect. And if memory serves (haven’t seen SB for a few months) Porter does not ask to rejoin the army, just for his expertise and knowledge to be used to help find Katie Whatserface.

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