GBH (2012) (aka Riot)
Nick Nevern stars as Damien, a copper who loves nothing more than getting drunk with his mates and watching football. The only thing is, his mates aren’t exactly the law-abiding type and are using a naive Damien to get away with, what may seem like, petty crimes. After weeks of attending routine incidents involving problematic kids, things come to a head. The whole of UK is in fear as riots break out with gangs of angry youths and men on the street, demolishing everything and anyone they can get their hands on. With London burning in front of their eyes, Damien must make a choice: should he sit back and do nothing or take control and make a difference, once and for all?
I was very excited to see GBH, especially with it using a storyline involving the horrific riots of August 2011, where the scum of society caused significant damage to homes, businesses and families across the UK. It was a terrible time for everyone and this film could be a gritty drama representing the horrors that summer. Unfortunately, GBH only half works as a film with the decision to split it into disjointed chapters, detailing a month before the shit hit the fan right up to the day of the riots. The stories told within each segment make sense but do not flow fluidly into one another, which makes me feel as though I’ve missed something inbetween each one. This method of storytelling also breaks the rthythm of the characters, so just when you feel you’re getting to know them, the film cuts and flits to a different day. If a bit more time was spent on the characters rather than the sudden cuts and change of scenario, it would’ve made the story much more fluid.
Another niggle I have with GBH is the potty mouth attitude from both the characters and the kids. In the film, Nick Nevern’s Damien is called to a domestic and sits down to chat with the couple’s son, who’s lack of discipline and a broken home has turned him into a little rip. Equally as bad, Damien refers to himself as ‘a dick’ when talking to the kid. I don’t know about you, but the police I’ve encountered would never be so informal to use language like that in front of anyone, never mind a child. Disturbingly, all the kids in the film, whether little troublemakers or victims, seem to think nothing about spurting out obsceneties in front of and directed at the police. I know some kids are like that, but most children would refrain from using that language in front of their elders and would definitely not back chat to the police in such a confident manner.
Despite these issues, the film has a strong moral about what is right and wrong and how to fix what is broken in a world like we live in today. Ex-Eastenders actress, Kellie Shirlie, gives a top performance as rookie cop Louise, who’s a work partner and love interest of Damien. Her first few weeks in the job are the most difficult and push her to the edge; the ultimate test to see if she’s really capable of making a difference in this messed up, broken Britain. Nick Nevern isn’t totally convincing in the role of Damien, but I think this is partly due to lack of comprehensive backstory and indecisive, volatile nature of his character. He seemed much more comfortable in The Rise and Fall of A White Collar Hooligan which, given the football hooligan side of it, isn’t that much a different character. The supporting cast did an admirable job, especially Peter Barrett, representing the nasty side of society.
Scenes of brutality, rape and murder are a difficult but necessary watch in GBH and this is where the story hits home. Emotions flare and it is up to each and every one of us to decide what to do for the best. This is actor Simon Phillips’ first outing as director and though there are issues mentioned above, a good story lies in there at the heart of it all, though I wish it had been developed that bit more.