Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

dir-scr Jamie Childs
prd Sebastien Raybaud, Callum Grant, Kate Glover, Jamie Childs
with Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jenna Coleman, Thomas Turgoose, Joe Blakemore, Rory McCann, Leon Harrop, Rochelle Goldie, Vivienne Acheampong, Allan Mustafa, Racheal Ofori, Joshua Brennan, Indie Rae Moat
release US Sep.23 ff,
UK 26.Jan.24
23/UK 1h37

coleman turgoose mccann

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Pulsing with energy and visual style, this British thriller charges through a criminal odyssey with relentless tension. Writer-director Jamie Childs never pauses to allow us to think about the preposterous plot or half-developed character connections, so it's easier to just hang on for the ride. And while it's rather dark and grim, the film also has a strong spark thanks to actors who find interesting edges in each scene.
On England's northeast coast, Jack (Jackson-Cohen) has returned from military service to take care of his younger brother Simon (Harrop), following their mother's death. He takes a dodgy job collecting a package in a North Sea wind farm. But his shifty cohort Silas (Blakemore) betrays him, leaving him on the wrong side of local crime boss Armstrong (McCann), Jack and Simon's violent, estranged father. So when Simon is kidnapped, Jack kicks into action, coercing Silas' jittery henchman Craig (Turgoose) to help him find the gang's hideout. He also reconnects with old girlfriend Bo (Coleman).
An original score by Deadly Avenger and Si Begg adds rhythmic force to the entire film, as does Will Baldy's eye-catching cinematography. Childs makes superb use of locations, keeping much of the action outdoors near the seaside, plus hackneyed but nicely designed locations like a warehouse rave, a derelict bingo-hall lair and an isolated cabin. Because Jack is a former motocross champ, he rides across the countryside with intent, often pursued by a mystery man on horseback. Improbably, everyone has a shotgun.

While the script has a gritty, deliberately understated quality to it, the actors are able to layer interest into their performances. Jackson-Cohen has a terrific haunted quality, reflecting several years of running from his past before now having to confront it head-on. Even though he wears a helmet through much of the film, he gives Jack a full-bodied expression that makes the most of his thinly defined connections. Turgoose offers enjoyable scene-chomping energy, while Coleman and her feisty female costars are solid as women who definitely don't need a man.

All of these elements offer hints that there's a lot going on here, although there isn't actually too much to see beneath the surface. The low-key point of the story is that the only way to break the cycle of violence is to raise children who have compassion and understanding. This is a bit muddled as details about Jack's past cascade onto the screen, but it helps make him a more complex action hero who seeks alternatives to inflicting pain.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 15.Jan.24

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© 2024 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall