RUNNING TIME:97 mins
REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
In London, Detective Sergeant Tom Brant has a drinking problem, plus a knack for getting himself into trouble and using supposedly unnecessary force. After he wastes three thugs breaking into a car, he is threatened with suspension and then enlisted to work under openly gay DS Porter Nash, whose by-the-book methods are rather different from Brant’s. The mission – to hunt down a killer who seems to be targeting cops and who also likes to tell Craig Stokes, a journalist , what he is about to do. He is aided by his ex-boss James Roberts and undercover cop Elisabeth Falls, but the killer, who seems to be a drug addict called Barry Wiess, seems to always be one step ahead of them………
I’m rather fond of Jason Statham. He seems to have carved a niche for himself, playing the same kind of character in the same kind of movie, and hurrah for that, he’s good at it, and the films are always great, blokeish, beer and kebab movies that just aim to give us a good time. He’s also said that he normally makes the kind of films that he likes to watch, so I reckon that he’s probably quite happy doing what he’s doing and wouldn’t want to change, though of course he’s not nearly as big a star as someone like, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger, despite being a far better actor. Blitz therefore comes across as a curious effort. It’s based on a novel by Ken Bruen, and it looks like to me it’s been partially turned into a Statham vehicle – apparently the main character is nothing like Statham in the book. I say partially though, because the Statham has precious little action in the film. Rather than an action movie it’s a police mystery thriller, and being not that different from something you could probably watch on TV most evenings, it’s almost totally unoriginal. It is reasonably enjoyable, and Statham is still Statham as he always is, but I think a great many people are going to be disappointed by Blitz.
We certainly open in typical cool Statham movie fashion, where he beats up the three car-jacking youths with a hurley. “Hurley, a cross between hockey and murder” he says in his best manner. Then we get into the main murder mystery plot, and to be honest , it quickly becomes a bit of a mess. Although not especially complicated, the script suffers from too many characters which have little bearing on the main story and situations which aren’t really explained properly. It seems obvious that writer Nathan Parker [who wrote Moon] didn’t really know how to adapt an obviously densely plotted novel for the screen, and I wonder if this it would have worked better as a two or three part TV drama. A good example is how does Blitz, the killer, know where all of London’s cameras are? It seems like the sort of thing that would have been explained in the book. I kept asking myself questions like this whilst watching the movie, another thing being how on earth did Blitz leave no DNA evidence at any crime scene, as he wore his normal clothes? Honestly, as a murder mystery it’s pretty inept, which is possibly why we find out who the killer is about half way through to make things easier, after which the film starts to resemble a British Dirty Harry [though without the action] or even more, Ten To Midnight. The tension does increase as we’re not entirely sure who will get who, but the film wastes time on subsidiary characters and stories who should either have been removed or had more time spent on them so they register more and make more sense – as the film stands they are just a nuisance.
I’ve mentioned there’s little action and honestly all you get is the brief opening brawl, a rather fine foot chase and a brief fight at the end. At least there are some great Statham moments and lines up there with the best. “Are you as nancy as they say?” he asks Nash sensitively, “do I look like I carry a pencil?” he replies to a request that he writes down information, and in my favourite scene he gets into a pub and is refused a drink because it’s closed. He reaches behind the bar, grabs himself a glass and talks the guy into serving him. As he leaves he is asked to pay and refuses – he says he doesn’t have to pay because the pub’s closed. This stuff is great, but it feels like it has been shoehorned into the film ,which I think would have been better deadly serious. As it is, there’s a real depressed look to the movie, with dingy pubs and decrepit rooms murkily shot emphasising browns and greys, and cinematographer Rob Hardy almost achieves a certain poetry out of this. Now this movie is an ‘18’, which these days normally means that it’s quite extreme, but the bloody shootings are average and the two other killings, a bludgeoning with a hammer and a drowning in a toilet bowl, occur mostly off screen. The swearing isn’t constant either so I haven’t got a clue why it has the certificate it has. I also don’t understand why many British films have to overdo the “appealing to Americans” bit, here we have the usual things like pubs indentified by signs saying “bar” and someone’s weight being described in pounds rather than stones.
Statham is still Statham, and he’s as cool as ever, but Paddy Considine is a perfect foil for him as Nash, and the two actors, though very different in style, have such chemistry I wish they were in a better movie. Considine is as great as you would expect – look at the subtle ways he indicates that his character is gay, without especially drawing attention to it. Aiden Gillen is a terrific psychopath, one of the best in a while, you really don’t know what he’s going to do most of the time and you really feel he could explode. In fact, the acting is this movie is of a high standard throughout and everyone really does what they can with their underwritten characters, a good example being Zawe Ashton as Elizabeth Falls, the cop who was once a drug addict and is up to something we are not sure about. I’m not really a fan of composer Ilan Eshkeri, but his techno –inspired score does work quite well for Blitz and goes excitingly into overdrive at certain key points. I’ve read that this film was made with an eye to having a series, and I can see Tom Brant, and in the form of Statham, in future films. I hope they do a better job next time though.