Highway robbery. Matthew Rhys (left, in a cameo) buys a gun from J (Howard)
dir Colin Teague, Glenn Durfort
scr Gary Young, Andrew Howard, Louis Dempsey
with Andrew Howard, Louis Dempsey, Adrian Dunbar, Melanie Lynskey, Gerard Butler, Jason Hughes, Emma Fielding, David Kennedy, Jamie Sweenie, Treva Etienne, Ioan Gruffudd, Matthew Rhys
release 18.Jan.02
00/UK 1h35

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Grainy and gritty, this London crime drama is trying to be harsh and realistic ... yet the filmmakers serve up pretty much the same old thing, really. It's basically the story of J and Gilly (Howard and Dempsey), friends reunited after Gilly's six-year prison sentence. He just wants his share of the cash from the scam that landed him behind bars, but J pulls him immediately into a new one involving a local boss (Dunbar) and a Scottish arms dealer (Butler). For both of them, this is the proverbial "one last job" ... and we know what that means. Especially since cops (Fielding and Kennedy) are on their trail. And there's just a bit too much double-dealing going on behind the scenes.

Directors Teague and Durfort try to establish a sense of style, but all they do is borrow from other films. And the result, while intense and somewhat involving, is just too unoriginal to grip us. We've seen it before, from the horrible, "unexpected" gunfire to the seedy squats with graffiti lined walls and carefully placed junkies and candles. There are a few nice surprises, performance-wise. Howard starts out as a typically broad Sarf Londoner, then turns into a truly believable guy trapped between his life of crime and his wife (Lynskey) and child. It's powerful and quite involving, especially as events begin to squeeze around him. Dempsey is also terrific as the film's sardonic narrator, the guy who just wants to get it over as quickly as possible. But everyone else gets the shorthand treatment--either in simplistically defined characters (who of course do something unexpected!) or colourful cameos. As a result the story seems unsubstantial and overly twisty, and the whole film feels both familiar and rather pretentious.
strong themes, language, violence, drugs cert 18 16.Oct.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "Brilliant! Why isn't Jamie Sweenie (Skip) mentioned as part of the cast?" --C Britton, "a let down fan" in Luton UK 26.Jan.02 [Ed: Erm, Sweenie is listed in the cast list above.]
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall