THE SILENCER

2.5 out of 10

Release Date: Oct 2007 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Steve Lawson (Essex Heist / The Haunting of Annie Dyer / Footsoldier / Killer/Saurus) and Simon Wyndham

Cast: Glenn Salvage, Maye Choo, Steve Lawson, Jim Clossick, Kevin Gash, Chris Jones and Fidel Nanton

Writer: Steve Lawson

Trailer: THE SILENCER

imagesThe Silencer is pretty old now but seeing as Joe Pesci II and I are going through a Glenn Salvage phase (and we think we’re unique in saying that) we noticed we’d been remiss in not giving director Steve Lawson‘s debut the double review treatment. So here it is a belated review for perhaps one of our favourite film turds of all time.

The wonderfully blank Glenn Salvage (LEFT FOR DEAD) stars as the titular Silencer after he’s betrayed by his fellow cops during an ambush on a local drug dealer, Sirrus Rook (CHRIS JONES). Left for dead (again) after being shot 88 times, he’s told that he’ll never recover the ability to speak ever again. On trying to rejoin society, his old boss takes pity on him and gives him a derelict house to live in. Elsewhere his fiancee (MAYE CHOO) has moved in with his corrupt ex-partner, (STEVE LAWSON). For some reason the Silencer decides to become a street vigilante (garbed up in a crash helmet with a dark visor and a leather jacket). First up on his ‘silencing list’ is the oddly named Kevin Gash (who’s performance is, funnily enough, gash) as the leader of a gang of drug peddlers (linked to Steve Lawson’s girl stealing bent-cop). Kevin Gash’s delivery is inspired and memorably terrible but he gets his comeuppance in style.  Anyway, The Silencer follows the drugs all the way to the top and eventually delivers a one-man assault on the baddy and the dirty cops at a car scrapyard. Leading to predictable victory.

The Silencer has several good elements that includes half-decent fights, it’s very own rock-ballad theme tune – which is terribly catchy, and its distinctive leading man with the goatee-pony tail combo – Glenn Salvage.  The film is our favourite because it’s memorably terrible, yet ambitious and it has isolated moments of genius (albeit unintentional). Also it has some great gaffs. There’s a scene (you can see it in the trailer) where our hero tries to do the splits in mid air to avoid being kicked, it looks like he doesn’t jump high enough and his assailant’s foot connects with his balls! hahahaha. Most of The Silencer is told in earnest tones and all laughter is generated by mistake, but then again a film’s ulitmate job (for better or worse) is to entertain and that’s what The Silencer does. It’s crapness makes it watchable as opposed to unwatchable like so many of it’s contemporaries are. Maybe it’s just us but if you’re reading this then you gotta be a Britpic / low-budget follower / addict / fan like us. So we say get a copy from Amazon today. It’ll set you back about £0.18 (twice the actual film’s budget). Then pass it on to a pal.

2.5 out of 10The Silencer still gets a low mark because it really does suck. But like the class clown at school, he may get low marks but you still like him. Please make The Silencer 2! We’ll give you a few quid.

Review Below by Matt ‘The Poisonous Shadow’ Usher

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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12 thoughts on “THE SILENCER

  1. THE SILENCER – review by Matt ‘The Shusher’ Usher

    One day a crack team of anti-narcotics cops (you know the sort – they operate under the radar, off the book, outside the government) decide to swoop on the one Mr Big they’ve not been able to catch in the act. They synchronise watches and everything. Michael Eastman, their best man, leads the operation as each man makes his solitary way to the rendezvous. Or do they? As Michael despatches the endless supply of burly bald henchmen, using his extensive repertoire of kickboxing skills, there is no sign of his colleagues. ‘Freeze! You’re under arrest!’ says Michael (or words to that effect). But what’s this? There’s no sign of the rest of his squad. Have they been slain? Did all their watches stop? Or is Michael the victim of a vicious double cross? (Hint: it’s the latter.) Then the bad guys kill him.

    But they miss! Well, not quite. Eastman faces up to his fate as three or four hoodlums empty their big weapons into him at point blank range. Remarkably he survives. But Michael Eastman is a remarkable man. Not least for the fact that the doctor thinks he was shot in the back. But he has been silenced! His vocal cords have been shattered, and there’s a problem with his back which might just become significant at some stressful moment later in the film. (Obviously it does.)

    Our hero hobbles home only to find his best friend / colleague has moved in with his wife. If that isn’t dispiriting enough it also turns out he’s been framed and everyone thinks he’s a drug dealer! In reality the bad guy is the chap who’s just moved in with Mrs Eastman! As he can’t speak and hasn’t brought a pen with him Michael leaves without clearing his good name.

    Fortunately his double-crossing pals on the force have set him up in a hovel where he mopes and plans vengeance and makes drugs out of insect killer. The film looks like it wants to have a labyrinthine plot but then decides not to bother. Basically everyone’s betrayed Mike, so they’re all going to pay. Apart from his beloved wife who has been bamboozled into believing he’s a bad guy. If only he could have come up with some way of communicating with her. Like a pen or email or sign language. Instead he just hangs about glumly, like someone with really bad toothache.

    Needing to do something with his life Eastman turns vigilante and starts murdering drug dealing rapists, much to the annoyance of his wife-stealing ex-best friend, who is in charge of the local drug supply. He organises a deal with some Irishmen, but Eastman puts an end to that. In desperation the bad best friend suggests the drug dealers might like to rape Mrs Eastman, which they think is a good idea, but then they have some insect killer drugs and die. It all ends soon after.

    THE SILENCER is a film about how society treats the outsider, the disabled man, the immigrant woman, and even the drug-peddling Irish. Its grim conclusion is: not very well. Who am I kidding? THE SILENCER is Z-movie pulp. But that’s not to say it is a film without ambiguity. After all who is THE SILENCER? The silent vigilante hero? Or the villain who attempted to silence him in the first place? This paradox is one of two fascinating questions posed by this existential action-thriller. The other is why they made it in the first place, as it seems to exist only to prove that it can exist (i.e. the film-makers wanted to make a film to show they could make a film so they made this and it’s pretty awful).

    One of the great things for an actor about being shot in the throat is it means you can’t speak. So you don’t have any lines to remember. The down-side is that you have to convey everything through body language and facial expressions. This is where Glenn Salvage comes a-cropper. He generally looks a bit menacing before hitting people, or else hangs his head low and frowns like a scolded dog in order to convey negative emotions. But he towers over the rest of the cast.

    Maye Choo sleepwalks through the role of his tranquilised wife, which makes sense. But then we have the (unintentional) comedy hard men. This sort of film attracts the kind of actors who it’s difficult to imagine acting in anything else. None of the younger actors, mostly drug dealers, give the impression that they have any intention to audition for the RSC any time soon. And then there are the older actors, playing the crime boss and the senior police officer. Can they really have spent twenty or more years in the business? How?

    And then there’s Steve Lawson. He plays the duplicitous best friend bent cop. He also directs. Although (I guess) his acting scenes were handled by the film’s other director (Simon Wyndham) it proves that people should generally not try to double the directing/acting lark (Mark Harris, Noel Clarke I mean you). Lawson (who, according to the unimpeachable IMDB is not the Steve Lawson who vomited the abysmal DEAD CERT into the world) looks like he might be quite good (a) if there was someone to say ‘pull it back Steve’ and (b) if there had been a script worth saying (he also provided the screenplay – clearly this was a labour of love, a labour of twisted, perverse, unnecessary love perhaps, but which of us can stand in the way of love? And so Steve Lawson loved THE SILENCER enough to couple with Simon Wyndham and bring their beautiful bouncing film into the world.)

    No-one was ever going to watch (or make) THE SILENCER for its acting or its commentary on modern society. It exists for exciting violence. Alas, this is its big weakness. Although the fight choreography is generally adequate there’s surprisingly little of it. And there’s precious little gore. Seeing as these two elements are the selling points for this film it seems a little remiss to be so stingy with them. You might argue rationing them makes their impact more powerful, which is true in theory but not here.

    Despite everything THE SILENCER is fun. Possibly not in the way it intends but not

    every film can be as well-realised as PADDINGTON. There are duff lines (‘Cirrus is dead – hang on – Cirrus is alive’), awful acting (lead rapist drug-dealer), bizarre character motivation (‘I moved in to help pay the bills’), unfortunate stunts (one gentleman seems to receive a kick where it’s least appreciated) and a rubbish plot (how did the bad guys manage to not kill the hero in the first place?). But the actual choice of shots and the rhythm of the editing works well, and the score, although utterly generic, fits. And then there’s the 80s-style power ballad. Honest. It feels like some bad mid 80s straight-to-video nonsense, which by a curious coincidence is also the director’s stated intention. Can’t argue much with that. Except to wonder why anybody in their right mind would think reviving the 1980s straight to video movie was a good idea in the first place.

  2. Wow, I’m amazed to find not just one but TWO reviews for a film I made ten years ago! I’m happy to accept the blame for The Silencer but I had nothing to do with Dead Cert or Just For The Record so it would be cool if you could correct that. Can hardly wait to read your thoughts on Killer/Saurus. By the way, I do have a film coming out shortly that I assure you is actually quite good, so please check out Survival Instinct.

  3. Thanks for popping by Steve. Sorry for the confusion over your credits. It seems that there’s another Steve Lawson going around making Britpics. Killer/Saurus reviews up in the next 2 weeks. We’ve seen it. Just need to write up the review.

    • Would love to make The Silencer 2 but I don’t have access to the kind of budgets necessary to make an action movie (even a bad one – and yes it was our intention to make a homage to 80’s straight to video flicks!). The Silencer was essentially a big amateur film in which nobody got paid but now that I run a production company and actually pay my actors there’s no way I can shoot for 20 days like we did on The Silencer. That’s why you end up with stuff like Killer/Saurus which was shot in four days!

      BTW the other Steve Lawson is no longer making films, he just did the two. I wouldn’t have minded taking the credit for them if they were any good, but….!

  4. hey we’ll make The Silencer 2 for you. Give us Glenn’s number! Thanks for your interest in our tiny blog. We wish you much success with your future films Steve!

  5. There’s a music video and a featurette about the band who did the songs in the special features on the DVD. They split up not long afterwards but there’s a new song by the same lead singer in my new film Survival Instinct. There’s also a Glenn Salvage cameo!

  6. does Glenn appear in Survival Instinct… on IMDB it says (voice)… I think Joe Pesci II is a fan of the man’s look as well as the voice… hahahaha

    • Hey Steve! Finally saw Footsoldier. Full review for you! Please save up for The Silencer 2!

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