After dropping out of University, getting a job as a storeman, doing drugs, getting married and then splitting-up with his wife Jack Rowland joins the Australian Defence Force and is sent to East Timor at the height of the troubles. He ends up ‘volunteering,’ for a mission in Indonesia, where the UN are trying to rescue a group of foreigners being held hostage by the local rebels. More
After dropping out of Melbourne University, getting a job as a storeman, doing drugs, getting married and then splitting-up with his wife Jack Rowland joins the Australian Defence Force and is sent to East Timor at the height of the troubles. His ability to speak a few words of Indonesian leads to his, ‘volunteering,’ for a mission in Indonesia, where the UN are trying to rescue a group of foreigners being held hostage by the local rebels. The US Navy helps to get Jack onto the beach under cover of dark and he makes his way to the provincial capital. Walking in the street he is abused and threatened by a gang of heavily armed thugs. He is on his own in a strange town. For the first time in his life he is not safe. Loneliness and danger force him to think about his life and confront his true feelings.
The hostages are middle-class German, French, Irish and Singaporean tourists and their last hope is this inexperienced and unenthusiastic Australian private. Held captive deep in the jungle they complain and bicker with each other constantly and Jack, working with a local UN agent, Da Silva, worries about what kind of rescue he has inflicted upon these lost souls. He remains with them in the jungle, sharing their predicament. He negotiates for their release with the kidnappers apparently in good faith but holds little hope of getting them out alive because he knows that the authorities are determined to launch a violent rescue attempt. Da Silva repeatedly shows up without the promised ransom money infuriating the kidnappers and increasing their suspicion of Jack. The Europeans who initially regard Jack as, ‘one of them,’ are equally frustrated by the lack of progress and wonder if this lazy Australian isn’t really more sympathetic to Asians than to Europeans. Is he on their side or not? As the tension builds Jack conversely becomes more relaxed. The greedy illiterate kidnappers and wealthy self-obsessed hostages deserve each other. Jack wants one thing only, to be reunited with his estranged wife in Melbourne.
Finally an ill-conceived rescue mission is launched. Several people are killed including some of the hostages. Jack manages to survive the onslaught only to become the victim of misdirected revenge.