Dir. Mark Cripps, David Ellison, James Marquand, UK, 2012, 84 mins,
Cast: Kenny Doughty, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, Mark Womack,
Review by Carol Allen
Set in the London underworld of drug dealing, glossy but dodgy nightclubs and guns or this case knives for hire, this is an action thriller about two men, Ian (Doughty) and Issac (Sigurðsson), who are set up by a third Joseph (Womack) to kill each other. It opens on the murdered body of Tommy (John Castle). Joseph forces Ian and then Issac to agree to kill the other, whom in both cases, Joseph claims, is the murderer. They have until morning to do the deed; otherwise they and their loved ones will suffer the same fate. In the course of the film, the complicated history of the three characters and what links them all together is revealed.
The three writer/directors of this film claim their influences as being Ridley Scott and Michael Mann but a more obvious one is Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, in terms of the film’s structure, use of violence and the heartlessness of its characters. Reservoir Dogs itself was a difficult watch in its day. The scene where Michael Madsen cuts off the policeman’s ear (which you never actually saw) was the one in particular, which had audience members walking out of the cinema. The unremitting violence of hat film was though relieved by a certain mordant humour, which this film lacks. Plus the ingenious but overly complicated plot here takes longer to kick in and some of its twists don’t always convince. For the first twenty minutes or so, it’s really tricky to work out what’s going on and, as all three main characters are so unremittingly unpleasant, it is difficult to care very much about them. The only significant female character, Joseph’s wife Sophia (Sónia Balacó), elicits some sympathy for the way she’s treated by the men in her life, but she too is no angel – we discover early on for example that she’s been cheating on Joseph. There’s also rather a lot of gun play and four letter words, which are standard in films of this genre. And, as is often the case in films of this ilk, one wonders how come the police are significantly absent to hold up the action by enquiring what the heck is going on!
Which is a shame because in many ways this is a well made film. Night time London and the several car chases through its streets are beautifully shot by cinematographer Matthew White, slickly edited by Anton Short and the film uses sound effectively as well. And within the limits of their roles, the actors are all good. There’s a particularly effective contribution from veteran Castle as the murdered Tommy towards the end of the film in one of the film’s many flashbacks. The filmmakers have learned all the technical tricks of their trade apart from one – how to make us care about what happens to the characters they have created.