Havoc (2 stars)

(18) 85min


Seemingly developed around Chomsky’s theory that ‘unlimited economic growth has the marvellous quality of stilling discontent while maintaining privilege’, Havoc is a film awash with promising ideas which its filmmakers proceed to then piss away. Set in the wealthy suburbs of Los Angeles where discontented rich girls Allison (Anne Hathaway) and Emily (Bijou Phillips) play pretend ‘hip hop gangstas’ with their equally delusional white High School friends. After a drug scoring trip to a Latino area in East LA, Allison and Emily decide to embrace the real thing but the results of their assimilation are not quite what they expect.

Scripted, surprisingly by Stephen Gagham (Traffic, Syriana) this is horribly cringey stuff. Admittedly, the brief is a difficult one - to make likeable about a bunch of privileged kids who can only identify with an underclass they have never met - but it is a theme that has been more cogently if equally ineptly dealt with in James Toback’s Black and White. Stylistically TV director Barbara Kopple grapples with influences as diverse as the overrated Oscar winner Crash and Jonathan Kaplan’s excellent 1979 template setting teenage rebellion flick Over the Edge but it’s all so pat, gauche and awkward. Hathaway has clearly chosen the wrong film to make her adult cinema debut (you get to see her knockers) and is that really the talented Mr Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin, Brick) playing a ‘wigga’ in a sunhat? Shame on you, brother.

Cineworld, Glasgow from Fri 27 Oct.

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