Friday, 22 June 2012
(Elliott Lester, 2011) It is perhaps a little surprising that films as utterly generic as Blitz still get made. That may be unfair. While the main plot thread here is unbelievably familiar and dull in genre terms - a gruff, uncompromisingly violent Detective hunts a maniacal serial killer on a cop-killing spree - the proliferation of sub-plots suggest an entirely different, more interesting film. Unfortunately, all they do is suggest. Set in a London captured by director Lester as a grimy, coldly magnificent concrete metropolis - he shoots architecture far more sensitively than he does people - it initially seems like a Jason Statham vehicle-by-numbers. The first scene finds Statham's Detective Brant witness some teen thugs attempting to break into a car outside his flat in the middle of the night. Of course he picks up a hurl - an excuse for the screenplay to pay some tribute to the source novel, by Irish crime author Ken Bruen, as Brant lectures the criminals on hurling being an Irish game mixing "hockey and murder" - and ventures out to inflict some punishment. But Statham, while undoubtedly the lead character, is only given a shade more screen time than the others who crowd the narrative here; Paddy Considine's Detective Nash, who wins Brant's grudging respect as a cop despite being "a poofter", Zawe Ashton's crackhead young PC Falls, Mark Rylance as a newly widowed Police Commander, and of course Aidan Gillen, never less than utterly over the top as the killer, Weiss. Then there are name actors in even smaller parts; Luke Evans as a Detective who gets involved with Falls and David Morrissey as a tabloid hack contacted by the killer. That all makes the film - a snappy 97 minutes - a thoroughly overstuffed bird, struggling to finish it's story lines and sacrificing any depth in, well, all of them. The cop vs killer plotline gets more time than anything else, but even then it feels thin, lacking the emotional weight or even narrative hook which might make it interesting. As it is, Gillen's charismatic hamming and Statham's reliable action-lead brooding make it merely watchable as we wait fortheir ultimate showdown. Considine, one fine monologue aside, is largely wasted along with everybody else. The action scenes are few - this is a thriller, not an action film - but nicely handled, and the whole thing is reassuringly slick and expensive-looking. What it reminded me of was Danny Cannon's forgotten Young Americans; an audition piece, awkwardly grafting American genre cliches onto a British base with questionable results.