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dir Elliott Lester
scr Nathan Parker
prd Steve Chasman, Zygi Kamasa, Donald Kushner, Brad Wyman
with Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, Aidan Gillen, David Morrissey, Zawe Ashton, Luke Evans, Mark Rylance, Ned Dennehy, Stephen Harwood-Brown, Bill Champion, Elly Fairman, Richard Riddell
release UK 20.May.11
11/UK Lionsgate 1h37
Man of action: Statham
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
This British crime thriller is so unapologetic about recycling cliches that it's actually hilariously good fun to watch. Even with its glaring plot holes and camp performances, the cast and crew's chutzpah keeps it consistently entertaining.
Brant (Statham) is a bad-boy South East London detective always in trouble with the authorities. But he gets the job done, so his loyal chief (Rylance) protects him. His new challenge is to find a brazen psycho (Gillen) who's killing cops in cold blood. Working with new boss Nash (Considine), who's tormented for being gay, Brant starts bullishly breaking the rules to solve the case. Meanwhile, the killer is leaking information to a tabloid hack (Morrissey). And another of Brant's cop pals (Ashton) is struggling with returning to the job after her stint in rehab.
Not much about this film is remotely plausible, as this version of the Metropolitan Police obviously couldn't solve a murder if they caught the killer with blood on his hands. The surveillance, forensics and policing on display are staggeringly bad; clearly only Brant's rogue methods can stop the carnage. And Statham plays him as a hilariously straight-faced brute who steals food and drink from everyone he meets and would rather smack someone with his hurley than take them in for questioning. (For the record, a hurley is a stick used in the Irish game of hurling, which Brant describes as "a cross between hockey and murder".)
Director Lester and writer Parker establish the film's full-on style from the start with a kind of disco groove production style and wonderfully cheesy dialog. Settings are very cleverly used, with breezy, cool camerawork and editing, plus some impressively gritty stunts. The tone may be over-serious, but the film is packed with witty gags, many of which are plainly intentional.
And despite the fact that we can't really care about what happens, the cast really go for broke. Considine is particularly impressive, playing effectively against type and adding a terrific counterpoint to Statham's blunt dinosaur. Meanwhile, Gillen steals every scene with his over-the-top insanity, eclipsing poor Morrissey in the movie's most thankless role. But put together, it's so corny that you can't help but smile.
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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