2 out of 10

Release Date: 7th April 2014 (DVD Premiere)

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

Cast: Tom Benedict Knight, Simon Phillips, Ewan Ross, Christina Bellavia, Kye Loren, Ben Loyd-Holmes, Lucy Drive, Daniel Caren, Rebecca Ferdinando, Grant Huggair, Rita Ramnani with Zara Phythian and Lorraine Stanley

Writer: James Crow and Paul Tanter


Y9OJm2o8To be proofread: He Who Dares is evidence of an increasing trend to ape Bollywood by remaking big international hits at a local budget and with a modest cast.  Paul Tanter‘s latest is a tepid blend of The Raid (whose sequel is out on cinemas the same week of release) and Die Hard.  It slavishly follows the laws of plotting to the letter but it’s execution is sloppy. There are too many plot holes and continuity errors for it to engage and all the shine is on the villain of the piece, lead hostage taker, Holt (SIMON PHILLIPS – CUT) rendering the hero a complete non-entity. There is zero character development on show, which makes the whole film and exercise in protracted pointlessness. One scene alone demonstrates the importance of good acting and character in a hostage film and that’s close to the beginning – where a hostage called Marie (LORRAINE STANLEY – LONDON TO BRIGHTON) is cajoled into taking the baddies list of demands to the cops outside. All the good work is done by this one actress who is out of the story in no time. A big shame.

The Prime Minister’s daughter Alice (CHRISTINA BELLAVIA) is taken hostage by Holt and his endless army of bandanna wearing goons. The baddies hole up sixteen levels below the ground in a multi-storey car park. Right before they can lock the garage down a faceless gang of SAS soldiers sneak in, led by Lowe (TOM BENEDICT KNIGHT – WHITE COLLAR HOOLIGAN 2) and Stevens (BEN LOYD-HOLMES – THE HIKE). There’s only one way in and out and that’s been sealed behind them.  A blood bath awaits. Will the SAS be able to rescue the Prime Minister’s daughter? Who Cares Wins? Actually, who cares, full stop.

As I said, no characters have been developed beyond Simon Phillips’ Alan Rickman/Hans Gruber wannabe wise cracking like a ginger Les Dawson. Tom Benedict-Knight is barely distinguishable from the 10 or so SAS men that stand in for our heroes. Even worse, the majority of the henchmen are dressed in a uniform (supposedly to save money on the number of extras that can play fight) so we can’t do an accurate body count or work out how many people are left alive. The minions seem to multiply as the film plods on. The majority of the hostages are killed early on in a massacre, they are solely represented by Lorraine Stanley.  The kidnapped daughter is little more than a helpless brat whose one defence is spiking a baddies tea with a E. Where was that going to get them?  Towards the middle an evil  female agent called The Honey Trap (ZARA PHYTHIAN – UNDERGROUND) shows up to play an escaped hostage only to slay some of the dopier SAS men.  A short-lived twist flops because like everything else, it’s badly handled. Poor Zara Phythian – cheer up Expendabelles is round the corner.

Stealth would have been order of the day in such a takedown but Holt and his goons seem to want bag some media attention so they seem to keen on stupidity over strategy. How come in films like this, the baddies seem good at setting up their evil dens, cold and professionally disposing of anyone in their paths, but when the good guys turn up they lose the ability to shoot straight or plan ahead? Do you care? SPOILERS: Plot holes ahoy – they involve the ability to fire guns with nobody hearing the shots in the next room, people knowing names that haven’t been shared, and knowledge of passwords, helicopters changing shapes, colours and models in seconds? Would the Prime Minister’s daughter really know her father’s top secret passwords? How would Holt know she would know? Why pick an escape route with only provisions for one escapee? Why is there only one police uniform? End of spoilers. Jerky camera work and lame effects like slowing down the footage or jump cuts that got old with Tony Scott’Man On Fire in 2005 pervade every scene. It was just a disappointing waste of time. Not all derivative and predictable films are terrible but this was just slack and slap dash. Badly written, hardly acted, and barely written – it’s another Simon Phillips vehicle that over-relies on his mediocre levels of talent. He’s about as menacing as Donald Duck and should stick to playing dorks (at least he convinces in those roles). Dull and mercifully short.

2 out of 10Paul Tanter and Simon Phillips are quickly becoming industry short hand for the cheap and careless quickie. Not the worst film they’ve managed and at least its not another Essex Boys movie. Their next one looks intriguing as it’s set in space, The Last Scout. Until then…

Editor’s note: There’s a sequel filming at the moment called He Who Dares 2: The Downing Street Siege? To quote the Pet Shop Boys – What Have I Done To Deserve This? 




One thought on “HE WHO DARES

  1. HE WHO DARES by Matt “He Who Scares” Usher

    Someone’s kidnapped the Prime Minister’s daughter! And he’s killed loads of people! And he’s up to no good! And he’s a terrible actor! And he and his gang of goons are holed up in a fifteen-story underground car-park / office complex with only one way in or out (not including the secret passage through the Indian takeaway next door)! Only a team of crack SAS troops can do anything about it! Unfortunately this particular squad is useless and most of them wind up dead very quickly apart from our hero, HE WHO DARES. I’ve forgotten the hero’s name so I shall call him HE WHO DARES even though the film doesn’t actually seem all that interested in him.

    So who is HE WHO DARES (the film not the character) interested in? The villain of the piece, that’s who. A villain so important and so dastardly that when we first see him he walks in slow motion. There are only two problems with this: slow motion is used excessively, haphazardly and pointlessly throughout the film, as are zooms, jump cuts and sudden shaky lurches into monochrome (which made me think the DVD was broken). The other problem is the identity of the villain: it’s Simon Phillips!

    Simon Who? Well, if you have to ask that question you’re looking at the wrong blog, but if you are blissfully ignorant then let me explain: Simon Phillips is one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen in leading roles in British cinema. Those of you who look on Danny Dyer and despair have yet to encounter the truly monumental mediocrity of Simon Phillips. Not only is he a terrible actor, he also wrote the story and paid for this film to be made – surely his delusion knows no bounds. He’s a disastrous villain. He combines the fearsomeness of Winnie the Pooh with the menace of Una Stubbs and the charisma of a decapitated turkey. But here he is, given the lion’s share of a lame script (sample line, ‘Christmas is a time for families … and kidnapping’) which requires him to be one of those crazy bad guys who are charming, witty, unpredictable and ruthless. Phillips lacks charm, wit, unpredictability and ruthlessness (but I’ve just seen that he has a really good lawyer so I won’t say some of the stuff I was going to).

    A film does not stand or fall on the efforts of one man alone (even if he’s the writer-producer-co-writer). No, there are others involved. In front of the camera we find a sorry parade of desperate thesps: who to single out for especial condemnation? Ewan Ross. He plays the detective supposedly in charge. The script is not his friend, but it requires him to be a hard-bitten seen-it-all-before tough guy who does things by the book. So he spends the whole film moaning about how he’s had to work on his night off. And that’s about it. Has anyone ever exuded less authority? Possibly Tom Benedict Knight in this very same film (he plays HE WHO DARES). These two are equal in every way – they even share a beard. There’s an early scene (presumably meant to be crackling with intensity) between them where we find (shock horror) that they have history – something about HE WHO DARES being a risk-taker and the other not liking HE WHO DARES because he dares – does this cliché have any relevance? No (apart from HE WHO DARES running headlong down into the car-park of death seconds after being told not to go into the car-park of death). Do their conflicting methods have any bearing on what follows? No. Does this conflict get mentioned again? No. (Apart from in the obligatory bit at the end where they compliment each other on a job well done). Ah yes, a job well done: about 60 innocent people murdered and the PM’s daughter has shot a man in the back, but yes a job well done.

    Behind the camera things get worse. As well as the dismal story and rubbish script (further sample lines ‘They don’t know Steve’s on his way!’ and ‘Has anyone seen Clive?’ both of which refer to bald lunkheads about to get killed) it looks like the cinematographer had just bought himself a new camera and couldn’t wait to try out all the buttons simultaneously. Meanwhile in the director’s chair we find the overstretched talent of Paul Tanter, a man to whom pace, logic, credibility, character, tension, suspense and excitement mean nothing.

    I know nothing about military procedures, but even I could tell that this squad is the Laurel and Hardy of SAS teams. Seeing as this film is aimed at SAS fans (who seem to be very ardent, which is rather sweet), you’d have thought that the film-makers might have done some research. Or even just told one of the actors to keep a look-out when they’re all huddled together chatting. That way they might have spotted the bad guys who kill them really easily. (Maybe they could have asked Ewan Ross, who, according to the unimpeachable IMDB, used to be a soldier. God, I hope he was a better soldier than an actor. I suppose he must be, he’s still alive). Who knew the SAS were so dozy? If this film is to be believed (it surely isn’t) then the squad is made up of 99% red-shirted Star Trek officers, and 1% HE WHO DARES.

    The film is stolen from the untalented Phillips by three women (which surely can’t have been the intention): Zara Phythian who has a little martial arts cameo which looks like it should’ve been in a different film, Rita Ramnani as a dead elf (not as weird/amusing as it sounds but still better than anything Phillips can muster) and Lorraine Stanley as a doomed hostage proving that she is far too good for this sort of thing.

    As for the twist. I spotted it within two minutes. But I was wrong. How else to explain Christina Bellavia’s sullen performance? You see, I knew, almost from the start, that the whole thing had been plotted by the kidnap victim, the Prime Minister’s daughter herself. As her friends and passers-by are mown down with a casual brutality of intense tediousness, her reactions tended between boredom and mild worry. I guess she must have been trying to do ‘dazed into disbelief’ acting, or maybe she refused to start acting until they paid her. The twist, when it comes, is mind-numbing. It’s as if Phillips thought, ‘What’s the worst movie twist ever? I shall come up with something worse!’ I shall reveal it now. MAJOR SPOILER – ONLY READ IF YOU’VE BEEN STUPID ENOUGH TO WATCH THE FILM ALREADY: it turns out that the bad guy is only pretending to be a terrorist! How cool is that! It’s like Jeremy Clarkson pretending to be an idiot! Rather than being religious or nationalist loons, he’s a bank robber pretending to be a terrorist so he can kill lots of people whilst secretly unfolding his plan. His plan (SPOILER – BAD GUY’S PLAN REVEALED) is to steal the Prime Minister’s money. Not the country’s money, or the Queen’s, or some really rich Arab landlord, but the PM. He’s only got £6.5 million in the bank (and for some reason the bad guy needs to be physically near to the bank even though the theft is online), and by my reckoning that’s probably less than what the operation cost, what with hiring twenty-eight highly trained killers, a helicopter, stock footage of a different helicopter, buying a large arsenal of guns and explosives, and doing a lot of planning and research (finding out that the PM’s daughter knew his secret passwords, knowing where she was going that night, (actually the whole plan would have failed if she’d decided to have an early night – did the baddies consider that?).

    SPOILER – ENDING OF FILM: After escaping the car-park of death Phillips turns up in the Indian Takeaway of death where he has a scene with Ewan Ross which is meant to be tense yet ironic, but succeeds only in being a comic highlight as these two talent-challenged non-actors wade through dialogue so implausible it should win some sort of award. And Phillips nearly gets away with it if it hadn’t been for that pesky kid (the PM’s daughter) who shoots him! But just the once so of course he’s going to be back in the already ‘controversial’ sequel.

    There is so much to say about this terrible, terrible film. The immense body-count and Phillips’ feeble attempts at humour may entertain some, but truly dear reader, this is little more than a tax-dodge of a movie made without any interest in entertaining you. From conception to execution it lacks in every department: plot, script, research, credibility, characterization, cinematography, acting, stunt/fight sequences, music, editing, special effects. This sort of film should be banned and people who produce it should be flogged before the general public. I await the sequel with alacrity.

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