Ultra-violent London-set thriller starring Martin Compston
Fight Club meets Death Wish in this ultra-violent vigilante movie, one so gratuitous it will turn even the strongest of stomachs. Set in a modern-day London where hoodies wielding knives seem to lurk on every street corner, Martin Compston is Joe, a mild-mannered messenger boy. With little social life to speak of, his only true friend seems to be his lively older brother John (Kill List’s Neil Maskell). But when John is murdered after a brawl, Joe is left reeling.
Angry, alone and confused, Joe retreats further into his insular world – but all that changes with the arrival of Piggy (Paul Anderson), an old school friend of his brother. A volatile figure, Piggy gradually puts the idea of vengeance in Joe’s mind. And so begins a gruelling stretch as they track down the gang members responsible for John’s death. The results, as you might imagine, are not pretty. But fatally for Piggy and debut writer-director Kieron Hawkes, they are also rather dull.
Given we know Piggy and Joe will spend the middle-third of the film slicing and dicing a group of geezers while they beg for mercy and (literally) soil themselves, it’s as tedious to watch as it is repulsive. It doesn’t help that Anderson (who played hooligan Bex in Nick Love’s remake of The Firm) overacts wildly, particularly up against Compston’s more restrained turn.
Not quite playing out with the obvious ‘twist’ you’ll be expecting, the ambiguous final third redeems Hawkes’ intentions somewhat, as it moves towards the psychological exploration of revenge. But it’s never enough to save this relentlessly ugly tale. A shame, because judging by the gloomy atmosphere he and cinematographer James Friend conjure throughout, Hawkes has bags of technical talent. If only he’d applied it to a script where we cared about the characters.
Selected release from Fri 4 May.