JACK FALLS

3 out of 10

Release Date: 21st March 2011 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Paul Tanter: ( No Easy Days (TV) / He Who Dares 2 / Meet The Firm – White Collar Hooligan 3 / Shame The Devil  The Hooligan Wars / He Who Dares / Essex Boys Retribution / White Collar Hooligan 2 / Fall of the Essex Boys / Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan)

Cast: Simon Phillips, Tamer Hassan, Olivia Hallinan, Dexter Fletcher, Alan Ford, Doug Bradley, Peter Barrett, Sebastian Street, Dominic Burns, Rita Ramnani, Zach Galligan with Adam Deacon, Neil Maskell, Martin Kemp and Jason Flemyng

Writer: Paul Tanter & Simon Phillips

Trailer: JACK FALLS

images-5Jack Falls is the third part in a trilogy that began with Jack Says in 2007 and Jack Said in 2009.  They follow the trail of a deep undercover police detective called Jack Adleth (SIMON PHILLIPS – THE LAST SEVEN) who does very little detection. Jack sports a weak attempt at a Scots accent , a crummy leather jacket and a bit of midriff for a cop who’s called upon to do a lot of running away.  So here we are the third and final part of his story.  Part one saw him framed for murdering Mr Big played by the late Mike Reid (EASTENDERS) and getting embroiled in a tale of double cross in the French capital involving a Parisian chanteuse called Miss X and a gangster lesbian played Rula Lenska (GYPO). Oh yes, this was the one were he was an amnesiac too with only a polaroid showing a pair of tits on it as clue to his identity (plot screwiness – but I do love boobs!)  If we weren’t bored to death enough with the shenanigans, Jack Said, the sequel takes us even further back in time to find how he ended up in this situation.  Unfortunately, Mike Reid had passed on so we have an extra’s hands and archive dialogue to make do with.  There are some improvements to be seen in this still clunky sequel.  We are even relieved for once to see Danny Dyer (THE AGE OF HEROES) in a supporting role as the only man Jack trusts, and the always reliable Terry Stone (SHANK) shows up to snarl his arse for a scene or two.  Otherwise, this trundles along much the same way as the first instalment.  Which brings us to the cameo packed third part.

Now part one and two were shot in the style of Sin City for the flashback scenes.  Black and white cinematography prompted with a splash of colour here and there.  Part three uses this gimmick throughout.  Its executed without any flare, as it was in Sin City. Here random colours pop up and useless objects like girders are coloured in for no reason other than to pretty things up.  The colours in  Sin City and The Spirit were used to signify emotions and character.  Thats been ignored here. It’s not all bad. Although the direction and performances are livelier and there’s a bigger budget the central problem is Simon Phillips central performance. It’s let down by a weak accent, a lack of motivation and he makes too lumbering and slow a performer to convince in this role.  At best he’s a variable actor.  he’s better in smaller roles or in an ensemble.  For instance, he’s well cast in The Rise & Fall Of The White Collar Hooligan, he’s good value in Airborne (2012) and very funny in Strippers Vs. Werewolves but borderline terrible or lacklustre in The Last Seven and The Reverend (2012).  No one really cares about Jack Adleth three times.  It’s taken two really weak films to arrive at something just about watchable with Jack Falls.  This is assisted by a well cast Tamer Hassan (FREERUNNER) as the corrupt chief of police (who was played by David O’Hara in part two). He’s restrained and menacing throughout up until a stupid climax where he overcooks it a bit. Dexter Fletcher (DOOM) is also good as a trustworthy cop looking out for Jack.  Maybe Dead Cert was a bad performance blip!  Alan Ford (THE SWEENEY MOVIE) turns up as the other big bad and replays his Brick Top schtick from Snatch that he does so well, so no complaints here, but he has aged a lot since being played by Terry Stone in part 2! (Have I got this right?)  I’ve got to say hello Jason Flemyng (SHIFTY) who has turned up in too many of these types of films for a pointless camoes. He’s about the only person here that still has a Hollywood career with a pulse.  I think he’s trying to enter the Guinness Book Of Records for appearing in the most films with the same actor, Dexter Fletcher (Can you name them?)  Who’s winning? Hassan & Dyer vs Flemyng  & Fletcher?  I digress hopelessly, to the plot. Poor Jack is not only hiding out from the police and East End gangsters he’s also haunted by a trio of ghosts that include a palid spectre called Sid (NEIL MASKELL – PUSHER) who tells him to shoot everyone, a ghost of a psychologist with a knife played with relish by Martin Kemp (THE KRAYS) and I won’t say who the third spook is because it gives away a crucial death.  They do little to add any rhyme or reason to the proceedings.  Adam Deacon (4-3-2-1) is also in the mix somewhere as one of Alan Ford‘s foot soldiers.  He does well with the scraps he’s given.  A snigger of class is on hand whenever Doug Bradley‘s (THE REVEREND – 2012) dodgy Amsterdam doctor is onscreen but again he’s just one in a procession of well acted yet toothless cameos.

Also annoying for fans of this trilogy of crap is a defiant lack of respect for continuity.  Actors swap roles between episodes, Dominic Burns (JACK SAID) thats you. Even the heroine from part two’s hair grows about a foot in two minutes and is now played by a better actress (OLIVIA HALLINAN – SUGAR RUSH TV) .  Why not use archive footage as the makers did in part 2? Actually who cares? It just made the film needlessly confusing for the wrong reasons.  I didn’t actually care about the through plot enough to care or get confused anymore. Hahaha….

So a mixed bag but mostly an exercise in remaking the same film three times until the makers got it right.  Jack Falls is the best by a long way but this is very very faint praise because Jacks Says and Said are both completely duff.  Better acting, better actors, better cinematography and better pacing still haven’t resulted in a good film.

3 out of 10 – You know you’re in trouble when its Tamer Hassan who puts in the best lead performance in a movie. But it’s true.  A larger budget improvement on the piss poor Sin City film noir rip-offs Jack Says and Jack Said. But that’s not saying much.  Part four should be called JOG ON, JACK.

NOW READ JOE PESCI II’s concluding review which is almost as epic as the trilogy itself!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “JACK FALLS

  1. review by Joe Pesci II

    So, here it is. JACK SAYS was followed logically if unimaginatively by JACK SAID. And now we have JACK FALLS. Which makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. They could have had JACK SPEAKS, JACK SPOKE, JACK SHOUTS, JACK SHOUTED, JACK WHISPERS, JACK ENUNCIATES, JACK NATTERED. God, these film-makers have no imagination and no loyalty to their own vision.

    They prove this over and again in the concluding panel of the triptych by their entertainingly cavalier attitude to continuity. At the end of JACK SAID Jack was shot by a dodgy looking foreigner, apparently whilst walking around central Amsterdam and being followed by Natasha (Rebecca Keatley). By the start of JACK FALLS he’s being shot on a deserted building sight by Dominic Burns (who was in the previous film but as a different dodgy looking foreigner) and being followed by Natasha (played now by Olivia Hallinan, whose only physical similarity to Rebecca Keatley is that they’re both female). The character even seems to have undergone a personality transplant. (She’s possibly the best thing in the film, though that’s not difficult.) Even more astonishing though is the casting department’s flexibility with the barmaid Carly. She’s played in JACK SAID by a white blonde actress with very short hair. By the time of JACK FALLS she has long dark hair. And is Chinese. She’s very good, and like most of the women in this strange Jack universe, has endless patience with our hero. Maybe she’s undercover too?

    Elsewhere The Fixer as played by Terry Stone has been given a name – Carter (I wonder if that’s some sort of homage?) and has aged somewhat and turned into Alan Ford, giving a typical Alan Ford performance. Detective Edwards returns but the dull James Frail has been replaced by the decades-younger Dexter Fletcher. Good to see his doctor pal is still around, played by the same bloke, which is a bit weird. Now, those of you who were paying attention may have noticed that Edwards was missing from part 2 and we only heard from him through his boss who was played by Julian Lee but has now been replaced by the ever oikish Peter Barrett. And his boss, mumbling David O’Hara in JACK SAID is now played by (drum roll please) Tamer Hassan! I guess Danny Dyer must have suggested he work on a JACK film; maybe the canteen does really good grub? But this is not the end of the showbiz starriness of this production! Here’s Martin Kemp as a psychiatrist that Jack trusts in a dream set in a football stadium which probably represents heaven because Jack’s dead, even though we never knew Jack frequented psychiatrists or liked football. See, he’s in so deep undercover he even keeps secrets from us, which, given the amount of voice-over he usually gives, is a bit of a surprise. Here’s Doug Bradley as a dodgy doctor, and here’s Jason Flemyng as Jack’s brother. He dies. And Adam Deacon turns up just long enough to avoid being irritating

    And look! Do you remember how in Tom and Jerry, for example, Tom would see a little devil version of himself tempting him to do something bad, but then a little angel version of himself would pop up to stop him? JACK FALLS adopts this same device, with Neil Maskell as bad Tom and Rita Ramnani as good Tom. Maskell plays Sid, who Jack let down in some way we will never quite know, unless we’re dumb enough to seek out the short film JACK FALLS: SID’S STORY. Nevertheless, Maskell steals the film as he usually does.

    But enough about all these luvvies! What of the plot? It’s a good one. Jack dies, but soon comes back to life and decides to go after Carter who he thinks ordered the hit. This suits Natasha who is Mike Reid’s surviving daughter, but Carter has stolen her dad’s business. Little does Jack know that the hit was ordered by someone else, and someone is implicated who he’s trying to protect. That’s it really.

    The earlier films used black and white sections to indicate events happening outside the main timeline, but this film is almost entirely in black and white, except when Maskell and Ramnani turn up. I guess this means either (a) Jack’s dead and this is all some sort of post-mortem revenge fantasy or (b) the film-makers traded in the colour film for some guest stars. Every now and again we get a nice splash of blue (Hassan’s collar) or purple (Deacon’s pocket). Reality bleeding through? Or is it just to prove the TV’s not on the blink?

    It’s not all bad though. Alan Ford has a nice line in redesigning clothes with a gun (maybe he could team up with Parminder Nagra the bag-waving fashion-designing detective from TWENTY8K?). Actually, that was it, that was the best bit.

    On the (very large) down side, well, here are a few of the lowlights. Jack, following his resurrection, is feeling a bit down. But can he stand by when he sees the film-makers re-enact the scene from the Odessa Steps in BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN as a pram rolls into a canal? Can he let a baby drown? (How anybody in these films has babies I have no idea; just look at the mortality rate for pregnant women in low budget British cinema.) No! He cannot! So in he dives (even though he looks like he really ought to sink) and saves the innocent babe much to the joy of his CUT co-star Zach Galligan. And then there are numerous moments where Jack outsmarts burly bald goons simply by standing behind a door before bashing them up (look out for a chap in the warehouse near the end waving a gun around like it’s a magic wand). And I wonder if those ice skates might find some sort of combat use? As for Adam Deacon, Alan Ford and the Ride of the Valkyries, at least it helps to remind us that Ford is playing the same role as Terry Stone (i.e. evil, usurping classical music loving villain). It is also a truly horrible moment, and possibly the very nadir of the trilogy. And that’s saying something. And I’m not even going to start on the ill-advised casting of the central role.

    The JACK trilogy claims to be ‘the first ever British narrative feature film trilogy’. Was it worth it? No, not in the slightest. It has a few moments, scattered here and there, many of them unintentional. But even as I emerge from a Stockholm syndrome-like relationship with the trilogy, it clearly lacks in every department. Acting, writing, plotting, filming and design all combine to produce a work which is remarkable only for its very existence. Maybe those involved are hoping that there is enough here for it to have some sort of cult value. Maybe. But cults generally congregate around false idols. Maybe in decades to come it will have acquired a layer of kitsch, maybe we will see Simon Philips’ performance as being amusingly camp, maybe we will learn to love Jack. But I have journeyed with him for nearly five hours and the pain is beginning to overpower me. No more! No more!

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