Age of Kill (15) | Home Ents Review
Dir. Neil Jones, UK, 2015, 86 mins
Cast: Martin Kemp, Phillip Davis, Patrick Bergin, Nick Moran, Anouska Mond
Divorcee Sam Blake is a devoted father to daughter Joss, who he sees on weekends. Though he earns his daily bread as a ruthless company man, a black ops specialist sniper that only has to point at his targets to nail them dead to rights.
After an incident when an innocent victim is targeted in a botched mission gone horribly wrong, Sam and his team are shut down indefinitely by Whitehall spooks that want to see them hung out to dry from the scandalous backlash. Six months later and trying to resolve himself from a state of limbo, Sam receives a call from a menacing stranger with a simple proposition: kill six people, one an hour, every hour or I kill your kidnapped daughter.
With a virtual gun at his head and impossible schedule to keep to, Sam must follow every word of the insane request of his daughter’s terrorist captor. All the while, there is anarchy in the shady ranks of Whitehall that have links to a hard-line anti-Islamic/immigration movement that’s gaining a dangerous momentum on the streets of London.
Time is ticking away and the only thing Sam can do is play the cards he’s dealt in this deadly game of cat and mouse, to get his daughter back alive. Snipers, hitmen, assassination plots, kidnap ransoms, shady M15 spooks, political skulduggery, and it all takes place right here in the great city of London. So it begs the question, what is not to like?
You can’t blame the makers of Age of Kill or any of its cast for what, on paper, doesn’t sound like a bad idea for a film. There is a pool of British talent standing behind it, a workable script and with a little malleability, a basic, but decent story with good potential. So what went wrong?
One of the main problems with Age of Kill is that its potential falls short of its expectation by being limited in scope; basically, you have a budgeted film with big ideas that it can’t deliver upon. Its themes are of the stuff that made TV series 24 and films like Phone Booth, and John Badham’s excellent Nick of Time intricate and exciting to sit through by being tight and tensely gripping to follow, by shooting in real time in controlled environments, and being aided by essential big money productions.
Age of Kill tries to follow a similar pattern, but lacks the distinction and sophistication of a big London thriller; instead it comes across as a low key crime caper that gives you sketchy moments of panic and violence that are condensed by shortcuts to show the real-time effect of the countdown to the execution.
The political angle of the thuggish hard-right movement on the rise seems to add a little social commentary to our times, though it does look as if it is crossing genres when the boot-boy contingent looks more like they’re ready for a pre-match football ruck, when instead they are supposed to be rallying a political march.
Martin Kemp does a well-rounded job of using his skill set of sniper tact and gunplay specialism to ramp up the action, just as he alternates the action between the emotion of playing the desperate father, racing against the clock to save his nearest and dearest.
The rest of the cast of Phillip Davis, Patrick Begin, Dexter Fletcher, Anouska Mond and Nick Moran bring fine support to their respective roles. Nick Moran does an impressive take on the slippery but insidious Enoch Powell/Nigel Farage type character, Roy Dixon, who pushes a silent but dangerous agenda onto the White British working classes to evoke conflict against British Muslims and immigrants.
Age of Kill looks slick on the surface, but strays a long way from the crosshair.
Review by Martin Goolsarran
Age of Kill is out on DVD and digital download on 29 June