Full of high octane action but little heart!
There seems to be a resurgence in classy highly styled British crime thrillers, and director Ed Creevy has carried on that trend by sharpening up the surroundings of our capital and make it the gleaming setting for his cops and robbers flick.
Struggling cop Max (played by James McAvoy) attempts to track down a notable criminal from his past in the form of Jacob (played by Mark Strong) after he comes out of hiding following his son’s inclusion in the criminal world. But once inside dealings and corruption from within the police begins to surface; a bigger side-investigation ensues that have consequences for everyone involved.
In terms of its look, it is a very stylish and glossy film which makes every second of London on screen look a million dollars. And hats off to the makers for concentrating their efforts in making the setting every bit as styled as they could, pairing it up with the familiar looks of crime works of the past that have taken place in an LA or New York. Add to that a stellar supporting cast with your ever reliable stars in the form of Andrea Riseborough as the moral heart of her colleagues, whose fast becoming the prominent British actress. Peter Mullan as a veteran mobster and David Morrissey as the guy in charge but with a essence of not being totally trustworthy.
It even has in a sense the old tradition of crime thrillers about following the good and the bad separately before you go and put them together in the same situation together. You have James McAvoy who just about gets away with being the fractured cop whose dealing with past traumas and forever feeling like the world is against him, but the real draw is that of Mark Strong. To say he’s your conventional ‘villain’ would be far fetched, ‘radical’ seems more fitting. He gives a performance with the look of revenge in his eyes and has that sense of not knowing what he’s capable of doing next.
So its visuals and cast are terrific, but what it makes up for in those departments, it lacks somewhat in the story. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of double crossing, of tension, of all-out well directed action because you do get all that, but not all plot strands are tied together neatly going into the final act. Whilst you get a solid story, you wish it had gone down a more compassionate road and seen the interaction between certain characters more, rather than diving into a gun stand off at every available moment.
The first half does raise the intrigue levels but slowly becomes more and more chaotic towards the conclusion. It brilliantly removes itself from being the typical British piece by distancing itself away from the usual icons of British culture and landscape. No car chases in caravan parks or plonking Big Ben in shots to remind you where you are, so to speak, with its opening heist sequence done emphatically to the point of it being the best action set piece. But with a weak plot, it remains to be an entertaining shoot-out with a missed opportunity of there being more dramatic weight.