4 out of 10

Release Date: 25th Sept 2009

Director: Lee Basanavvar & Michael Tchouboroff

Cast: Simon Phillips, Danny Dyer, David O’Hara, Ashlie Walker, Rebecca Keatley, Dominic Burns, Carina Birrell, Jimmy White with Rita Ramnani and Terry Stone

Writer: Paul Tanter

Trailer: JACK SAID

Well, aren’t I the fool. Instead of watching the whole trilogy I couldn’t wait to get my thoughts on Jack Says published (even though at the time of writing this, they’re not) and so I may have said some things that I now regret.

Most importantly, the Quest for the Polaroid Breasts is finally solved! It doesn’t really make much sense, but at least the film-makers thoughtfully gave us an answer. I can rest easy now. I suppose it was obvious, but that’s easily said afterwards.

But Jack Said throws up more questions, and that’s as it should be. Like: what idiot thought Jimmy White might be able to act? Now, me and my nan were massive White fans in the 80s and early 90s when he was winning everything in snooker except the finals, but, thankfully his appearance is very brief. And what’s in the case? And why has no-one challenged Jack’s dodgy accent? And what idiot decided to resurrect Mike Reid (RUNAROUND) in such a ham-fisted yet gloriously cheeky way?

Maybe I should explain. Jack Said is a very sensible title. In the previous film, Jack Says, we follow Jack as he tries to piece together his past even as his present is taking him to pieces. Jack Said is primarily a prequel, explaining how the events depicted in Jack Says came to be. And it is a sequel as well, depicting the ultimate consequences. It’s very layered. (But this is a trilogy! What, I wonder, could possibly follow in Jack Falls? Particularly as we see him fall in Jack Said.)

Being a prequel we find that certain characters who died first time round are now alive again (in the past). This presented the film-makers with a bit of a challenge seeing as one the actors involved (the aforementioned former Frank Butcher Mike Reid) was as dead as his on-screen incarnation. This being a film of modest means they were unable (or maybe even unwilling) to attempt an Oliver Reed in Gladiator-style CGI revivification. So instead, they hired a man who looked nothing like Mike Reid, filmed his hands and dubbed in some archive recordings of Mike Reid’s voice. (I have to admit this is somewhat unsettling as he spends most of his time issuing threats. Where does this dialogue come from? Possibly the previous film, or was this the sort of thing Reid liked recording for fun? I don’t know.) It seems that any gaps were filled by the invention of a new character (again I could be wrong, he may well be in the comic) played in inimitable style by the future legend that is Terry Stone (GET LUCKY) (we know he’s evil because he listens to Bach).

So, in Jack Said we get all the backstory that Jack Says left out. We see how Jack wooed, won and lost Rita Ramnani (UMBRAGE). We see him duel with crazy evil vixen bitch Ashlie Walker. Simon Phillips (FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS) is of course back as Jack, and he seems to be nattering on more than ever. I’ve said it before and I say it now again. He’s rubbish at hard men, but he’s really good at the lighter end, and the scenes between him and Rita Ramnani are really good. And Ashlie Walker gets to have more fun as a psychotic gangland boss and would-be daddy’s girl.

But the big name above the title this time round is a certain Danny Dyer (RUN FOR YOUR WIFE)! Last time I saw him, he was in the not very good Deviation (not his worst film, that’s Basement). In Jack Said he plays, well I never quite got to the bottom of that but he plays a significant supporting character, and as such he is so much better than when over-exposed in unsuitable leading roles. He doesn’t quite steal the film, but he adds a touch of (and I use this word after some thought) class to proceedings. It’s his best turn since I saw him in Dead Man Running, where he was also the main supporting character.

I admit I rather enjoyed Jack Said. Even though it is uninvolving tosh. To be honest, the whole ‘Jack’ story isn’t the most compelling committed to celluloid (so far – who knows how I may feel after Jack Falls tomorrow?!). And the film suffers badly on the production values front: one moment Jack is in the centre of Amsterdam, he breaks into a house and goes into the kitchen which is clearly in somewhere like Reading (you can see the garden even though he broke into what looked like flats). And there’s some atrocious dialogue, already scrubbed from my memory. And the attempts to maintain continuity with the original film are often laboured. And David O’Hara (THE BRIDGE) as some sort of police chief is almost incomprehensible. And what the Russians had to do with anything I neither know nor care. And the story itself isn’t all that interesting when you iron it out. It’s just some undercover cops trying to uncover some shady gangsters and getting caught in the crossfire between rival gangs and rifts in the main gang, with, as ever, innocent victims everywhere. However, no pregnant women get hurt in the course of this film (except in a flashback to events yet to happen in the previous film), so that’s a bit of a bonus.

At its worst Jack Said is scrappily put together, tells a very dull story confusingly, depends on prior knowledge of Jack Says and has some terrible acting. At its best it has some nice moments, some engaging character interaction and suggests that everybody’s energies would be most profitably directed into making a film which doesn’t involve Jack. Is this man really meant to be the Met’s best undercover officer? He’s rubbish. Or is that part of the plan? And I can’t wait to see how events unfold. After the climactic conclusion I would guess that we’re heading even further back in time, but Jack has caught me out once already, so maybe having fallen, he’ll get up again. – by Joe Pesci II



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