5 out 10
Release Date: 3rd June 2011
Cast: James D’Arcy, Frank Harper, Kate Magowan, Andrew Shim, Cal MacAninch, Ray Panthaki, David Hayman, Doug Allen, Tony Jayawardena, Martin Hancock, Everal Walsh with Jamie Foreman and Noel Clarke
Writer: Ronnie Thompson & Colin Batts
UK prison movies seem to be becoming the new ‘gangster movie’. This is the third in twelve months along with Offender and Ghosted. Whilst all three are competent, its only the superior Ghosted that stands out and I’m sorry to report that that isn’t for a good reason. But read the Ghosted review to find out why. Screwed guards the middle ground and is told from the prison officers’ or screws’ point of view. Based on an autobiography by a former screw, Ronnie Thompson, this crams in so much incident that it makes your average stretch of porridge seem like ten episodes of Miami Vice.
The story follows ex-soldier Sam (JAMES D’ARCY – W/E.), an Iraq veteran who suffers from survivor’s guilt. Unable to find a suitable job he gets co-erced into applying to be a screw by his wife. He soon learns the tricks on the wings and also how bureaucracy falls on the side of the prisoner. We see a good officer framed by a con for unnecessary violence just so that he can get the privileges he was used to at the last prison he was based at. The warden is a career climbing, slimy politician (DAVID HAYMAN – THE NEAR ROOM). He finds his hands are tied when trying to do his job when tackling a small circle of high ranking cons lead by Truman (NOEL CLARKE – HUGE). Fellow screws are friendly but are basically worn down by the job to care about making crusades, especially head prison officer, Deano (FRANK HARPER – ST. GEORGE’S DAY).
Screwed is well acted and a competently told story but it feels stale. It’s following in the footsteps of one of the best prison movies ever made, Jacques Audiard’s Le Prophet. Anything as pedestrian as this or the other two UK efforts mentioned have their work cut out to entertain. The cast is brilliant across the board, even the unreliable Jamie Foreman (IRONCLAD) is really well cast and pulls off his role as one of the officers. The main problem is that Sam doesn’t gain our sympathy or trust. He’s a wife beater (KATE MAGOWAN – STARDUST) and hardened drug taker due to his personal stresses but he’s a hard character to be onside with. When he uncovers a conspiracy inside the prison it’s more a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Or has it really come to the point where our cinematic heroes have to be rotten to women and emotionless coke fiends? Maybe. At least this is a vast improvement on Offender (there are no English Franks to upset the acting equilibrium) but hasn’t got the engrossing characters seen in the superior but flawed Ghosted. James D’Arcy as good as he is, is too posh to play hard men. A problem I also had with his W/E co-star Richard Coyle in last week’s UK remake of Pusher.
5 out of 10 – Competent but let down by a plot that feels the need to make us go wow at the drop of a hat. It tries not to bore you but it ends up being very repetitive. Good acting, good cast. OK film.
Review by Joe Pesci II below.>>!
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- James D’Arcy: Agent Carter (TV), Jupiter Ascending, Let’s Be Cops, The Cloud Atlas, Hitchcock, W/E, The Age Of Heroes, Exorcist – The Beginning, Cloud Atlas, Master & Commander – The Far Side Of The World, An American Haunting, Flashbacks Of a Fool, The Trench
- Frank Harper: St George’s Day, Victim, Streetdance, Just For The Record, Unarmed and Dangerous, Rise Of The Footsoldier, This Is England, The Football Factory, The Calcium Kid, Bend It Like Beckham, Club Du Monde, South West 9, Lucky Bright, Goodbye Charlie Bright, Shiner, Kevin & Perry Go Large, A Room For Romeo Brass, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, TwentyFourSeven
- Kate Magowan: Plastic, Eastenders (TV), Fall of the Essex Boys, Outside Bet, Screwed (2011), A Lonely Place To Die, 4-3-2-1. Stardust, Kidulthood, It’s All Gone Pete Tong
- Andrew Shim: This Is England ’90 (TV), Anti-Social, U.F.O (2013), Airborne (2012), This Is England 88 (TV), This Is England 86 (TV), This England, Once Upon A Time In The Midlands, A Room For Romeo Brass
- Cal MacAnninch: The Awakening, Doomsday, Dear Frankie, The Lost Son, The Woodlanders
- Ray Panthaki: Convenience, Cryptic, World War Dead, Jadoo, The Man Inside (2012), It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Interview With a Hitman, City Rats, Kidulthood, Ali G Inda House, 28 Days Later, Eastenders (TV)
- David Hayman: Castles In The Sky, Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit, Sawney – Flesh of Man, Burke and Hare, Flood, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Rag Tale, Tailor Of Panama, Vertical Limit, The Match, My Name Is Joe, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, Regeneration, The Jackal, The Near Room, Twin Town, Rob Roy, Venus Peter, Sid & Nancy, Hope and Glory
- Doug Allen: Anti-Social, We Are Monster, The Guvnors, Sniper 5, The Firm (2009), Gangster No.1
- Tony Jayawardena: Tower Block
- Martin Hancock: The Guvnors, Defiance, Hell To Pay, Trauma, 24 Hour Party People, Coronation Street (TV),
- Jamie Foreman: A Hundred Streets, Eastenders (TV), Dead End (2013), St George’s Day, The Grind, Ironclad, Baseline, Botched, Oliver Twist (2005), Layer Cake, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, The Football Factory, Goodbye Charlie Bright, Gangster No.1, Elizabeth I, This Year’s Love, Nil By Mouth
- Noel Clarke: The Anomaly, I Am Soldier, Saving Santa (voice), Star Trek 2 (2013), The Knot, Storage 24, Fast Girls, Huge, Heartless, 4-3-2-1, Centurion, Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll Doghouse, Adulthood, Kidulthood, Dr Who (TV), Auf Wierdesen Pet (TV )