THE CARRIER

5 out of 10

Release Date: 25th January 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Anthony Woodley (Outpost 11)

Cast: Edmund Kingsley, Jack Gordon, Zora Bishop, Billy Clarke, Joe Dixon, Karen Bryson, Andrew French, Rebecca Johnson, James Littlewood, Rachel Finnegan with Luke Healy and Josie Taylor

Writer: Luke Healy, Anthony Woodley, Helen Kingston & Stefan Mitchell

Trailer: THE CARRIER

Review by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II below.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

8 out of 10

Release Date: 11th November 2011

Director: Sarah Smith & Barry Cook (Walking With Dinosaurs 3D)

Voice Cast: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton, Ramona Marquez with Michael Palin, Robbie Coltrane, Rhys Darby, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Joan Cusack, Jane Horrocks, Andy Serkis, Dominic West, Iain McKee, Kevin Eldon, Bronagh Gallagher, Danny John-Jules, Eva Longoria and Laura Linney

Writer: Sarah Smith & Peter Baynham

Trailer: ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

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Review by Matt Usher:  (Yes, I know, I should have written this before Christmas, but the film’s four years old anyway so never mind and if you haven’t watched it yet watch it this Christmas instead – it comes round quicker than you think).

This is the Aardman film that got away even despite making loads of money, and it’s easy to see why (both why it got away and why it made loads of money). It’s a CGI (or CG depending on your acronymic preference) effort, and if there’s one thing we know about Aardman it’s that they’re the plasticine people. So that explains why the film never really got noticed by critics (and me): Aardman = plasticine, leave all that computer drawing stuff to the Americans. But it’s a really good film on any level, and the truth is, had it been a stop-motion animation they’d still be making it and it would probably take them another twenty years to complete, it’s that intricate. There’s a lot going on in every frame. All of it good.

But it all starts with the story of the strangely named Arthur Christmas, a young man who works in the mailroom in Father Christmas’s secret North Pole Lair. (Imagine if Santa ever turned to crime! Now there’s an idea for a thoroughly disgraceful film…) And Arthur’s also Father Christmas’s younger, more useless son. As such he’s relegated to replying to all the letters from little children around the world. And he is, of course, a true believer. But what of the implied older brother? His name is Steve and he is the heir apparent. The film’s basic premise is: how does Father Christmas make all those deliveries in one night? The answer (which should help a lot of parents at Christmas-time when asked awkward questions) is that in order to cope with the population explosion and advances in modern detection technology, the operation now masterminded by the gadget-obsessed, checklist-ticking Steve uses what is effectively the USS Enterprise (complete with cloaking ability) and a crack team of several million elves travelling faster than light. Meanwhile the actual Father Christmas (voiced by a weary, bemused Jim Broadbent – so much better here than in THE LADY IN THE VAN) has become a figurehead, simply laying down little more than the first and last presents in any given town whilst the elves beaver away like busy beavering bees.

And so the Christmas run is done in record time, but then Arthur finds that someone’s been missed! A little girl in Cornwall will not receive her bike! And so Arthur teams up with his granddad – a retired Santa from the early twentieth century with no time for new-fangled technology and a nostalgia for a good old-fashioned sleigh (and voiced brilliantly by Bill Nighy (UNDERWORLD)) to right the wrong which Steve, with a politician’s or businessman’s view of statistics and the bottom line, regards as an unnecessary and wasteful solution to an unfortunate oversight.

Arthur and Grandpa are soon circumnavigating the Earth, and getting into scrapes involving dangerous animals, aliens and a dodgy satnav. And they’re aided by an elf from the wrapping division (voiced by Ashley Jensen (EXTRAS) with a combination of comic determination and cuteness).

 James McAvoy (THE LAST STATION) is bright and fresh-voiced as Arthur, and nothing like the usual James McAvoy characters. It may be the best thing I’ve seen him in (that’s not as back-handed a compliment as it appears). Hugh Laurie (STUART LITTLE) makes a good villain (except there are no villains here – the film manages to show conflict without evil which is a good trick – Steve’s just got his priorities skewed, basically following the technology and forgetting about the purpose). Imelda Staunton (PETER’S FRIENDS) plays Mrs Christmas, the only one with any sense (but in a funny way not a boring way). Sometimes in animated films it can be a bit annoying when well-known voices are employed and the actors just sound like they’re doing someone a favour or doing an easy gig. Not here, there’s proper voice acting going on, which helps the excellent animations come to life. You’ll even forget they’re not real-life plasticine. There are also a lot of non-intrusive cameos (Andy Serkis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Jane Horrocks and others with only a line or two as elvish minions.) It helps also that the script steers nicely between sentiment and comedy without overloading on either (there are no wise-cracking reindeer).

Generally I like to think I don’t like CG animations what with their American shininess and absence of thumbprints and recourse to witty, literate scripts. But (not for the first time) I can happily make an exception here. It’s still basically the Aardman house style – simple figures, generally with big noses (and Steve’s beard is a work of genius) (even though I didn’t spot it till second time round); the elves are particularly good – huge heads dwarfing tiny military-uniformed bodies (and a much better realisation of the elf as a species than the Orlando Bloom iteration over in Middle-Earth). But on top of all that there’s busyness and pace and lots of (almost) throwaway visual gags, and a global scale which pretty much makes the CG a necessity. And there are plenty of groanworthy puns to remind us that we’re still in Aardman-land.

But what are we to make of these all-too-servile elves, an almost Ood-like race of willing and enthusiastic servants, whose unthinking loyalty turns into existential terror at the thought of the failure of Christmas (one of them even questioning the existence of children as the film takes a bleak turn)? Funny they may be, but are they not slaves, labouring thanklessly for the delight of small children unaware of their very existence? (Or maybe that is in itself a description of the modern Christmas?) On the other hand, it keeps them from causing mischief on street corners.

8 out of 10 – I love this film. It’s clever, funny, sweet and repays (and pretty much requires) multiple viewings: so it’s the almost perfect Christmas film (apart from Justin Bieber doing the song, that’s a shame.)

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • James McAvoy: X-Men 5, Victor Frankenstein, X Men 4, Muppets Most Wanted, Filth, Welcome To The PunchTrance, X Men- First Class, Gnomeo & Juliet (voice), The Conspirator, The Last Station, Wanted, Becoming Jane, Atonement, Starter For 10, Penelope, The Last King Of Scotland, The Chronicles Of Narnia- The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Shameless (TV), Inside I’m Dancing, Wimbledon, Bright Young Things, Regeneration, The Near Room
  • Jim Broadbent: Bridget Jones 3, The Sense of an Ending, War & Peace (TV), Brooklyn, The Lady In a Van, Big Game, Get Santa, Paddington, Postman Pat (voice), The Harry Hill Movie, Closed Circuit, Le Week-EndFilth, Cloud Atlas, The Iron Lady, Another Year, Harry Potter- part 8, Harry Potter- part 6, The Damned United, Young Victoria, Inkheart, Indiana Jones 4, Hot Fuzz, Chronicles Of Narnia- The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridget Jones 2, Vera Drake, Vanity Fair, Bright Young Things, Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Gangs Of New York, Iris, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones, Little Voice, Topsy Turvy, The Avengers, The Borrowers, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, The Secret Agent, Rough Magic, Richard III (1995), Princess Caraboo, Bullets Over Broadway, Widow’s Peak, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Erik The Viking, Vroom, Brazil
  • Hugh Laurie: The Canterville Ghost (voice), Tomorrowland, House MD (TV), The Oranges, Monsters vs Aliens (voice), Street Kings, Stuart Little 3, Valiant (voice), Flight of the Phoenix, Stuart Little 2, Girl From Rio, Maybe Baby, Stuart Little, Cousin Bette, The Man In The Iron Mask (1998), Spice World, The Borrowers, 101 Dalmatians (1996), Sense and Sensibility, A Bit of Fry & Laurie (TV), Jeeves & Wooster (TV), Peter’s Friends, Blackadder (TV), Strapless, Plenty, The Young Ones (TV)
  • Imelda Staunton: Paddington (voice), Pride (2014), Maleficent, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (voice),  Another Year, The Awakening, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – Part 1, Three and Out, Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix, Freedom Writers, Shadow Man,  Nanny McPhee,  Vera Drake,  Blackball, Chicken Run (voice), Remember Me,  Twelth Night (1996), Sense and Sensibility, Much Ado About Nothing(1993), Peter’s Friends
  • Ashley Jensen: The Lobster, The Legend of Barney Thompson, All StarsPirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (voice), Hysteria, Gnomeo & Juliet (voice), Ugly Betty (TV), How To Train Your Dragon (voice), Nativity!, A Cock & Bull Story, Extras (TV)
  • Marc Wootton: The Bad Education Movie, Nativity 3, The Harry Hill Movie, Nativity 2, Nativity!, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, Confetti
  • Michael Palin: Absolutely Anything (voice), Remember Me (TV), The Klangers (narrator) (TV), Monty Python Live – Five Down One To Go, A Liar’s Autobiography (voice), Michael Palin’s Explores (TV), The Wipers Times, Fierce Creatures, The Wind In The Willows (1996), GBH (TV), American Friends, A Fish Called Wanda, Brazil, A Private Function, The Meaning Of Life, The Missionary, Time Bandits, Life Of Brian, The Rutles, Jabberwocky, Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Flying Circus (TV)
  • Robbie Coltrane: Effie Gray, Great Expectations (2012), The Comic Strip (TV), Brave (voice), Harry Potter – Part 1 to 8, The Brothers Bloom, Alex Rider – Stormbreaker, Ocean’s Twelve, Van Helsing, From Hell, James Bond – Goldeneye, James Bond – The World Is Not Enough, Message In a Bottle, Buddy, Cracker (TV), The Adventures Of Huck Finn (1994), The Pope Must Die, Triple Bogey On a Par Five Hole, Nuns On The Run, Henry V, Lenny Henry – Live and Unleashed, Bert Rigby You’re a Fool, Slipstream, The Fruit Machine, Blackadder (TV), Tutti-Frutti (TV), Mona Lisa, Absolute Beginners, Caravaggio, The Supergrass, The Young Ones (TV), Krull
  • Rhys Darby: We’re Wolves, Killing Hasselhoff, What We Do In The Shadows, Diagnosis Death, The Boat That Rocked, Yes Man, The Flight of The Conchords (TV)
  • Sanjeev Bhaskar: Absolutely Anything, Goodness Gracious Me (TV), The Kumars At No.42 (TV), Zero Theorem, London Boulevard, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Anita and Me
  • Joan Cusack: Toy Story 4 (voice), Shameless US (TV), The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Hoodwinked 2 (voice), Mars Needs Moms (mo-cap), Toy Story 3 (voice), My Sister’s Keeper, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Friends With Money, Looney Tnes Movie (voice), School of Rock, Where The Heart Is, High Fidelity, Toy Story 2 (voice), Runaway Bride, Cradle Will Rock, Arlington Road, In & Out, Grosse Pointe Blank, Two Much, Nine Months, Corrina Corrina, Addams Family 2, Toys, Accidental Hero, My Blue Heaven, Men Don’t Leave, Say Anything, Working Girl, Married To The Mob, Star and Bars, Broadcast News, Grandview USA, Sixteeen Candles
  • Jane Horrocks: Abolutely Fabulous – The Movie, Sunshine On Leith, Trollied (TV), Absolutely Fabulous (TV), Garfield 2 (voice), Brothers Of The Head, The Corpse Bride (voice), Born Romantic, Chicken Run (voice), Little Voice, Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis, Second Best, Life Is Sweet, Memphis Belle, The Witches, Getting It Right
  • Andy Serkis: Star Wars 8, Jungle Book – Origins (mo-cap), Star Wars – The Force Awakens (mo-cap), Avengers 2, Tintin 2 (mo-cap), The Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes 2 (mo-cap), The Hobbit – The Desolation Of Smaug (mo-cap), The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (Mo-Cap), Wild Bill (2012),  The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Mo-Cap), Tintin (2011) (Mo-Cap), Brighton Rock (2011),  Burke and HareSex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll, The Cottage, The Prestige, 13 Going On 30,  King Kong (2005)(Mo-Cap),  Alex Rider-Stormbreaker, Deathwatch, 24 Hour Party People, Lord Of The Rings – Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers, The Return Of The King (Mo-Cap), Mojo, Stella Does Tricks, Career Girls
  • Dominic West: Finding Dory (voice), Genius, The Affair (TV), Testament of Youth, Pride (2014), John Carter, Johnny English 2, The AwakeningCenturion, 300, The Wire (TV), Punisher – War Zone, The Forgotten, Chicago, Rock Star, 28 Days, The Gamble, True Blue, Richard III (1995), Surviving Picasso
  • Iain McKee: Castles In The Sky, Weekender
  • Kevin Eldon: The Comedian’s Guide To Survival, Danger Mouse (voice)(TV), Up All Night, Set Fire To The Stars, The Wedding Video, Faintheart, Hyperdrive (TV), Hot Fuzz, Nathan Barley (TV)
  • Bronagh Gallagher: Shooting For Socrates, Pramface (TV), Grabbers, Albert Nobbs, Malice In WonderlandThe Big I Am, Faintheart, Last Chance Harvey, Botched, This Year’s Love, Pulp Fiction, The Committments
  • Danny John-Jules: Death In Paradise (TV), Red Dwarf (TV), The Grind, MI High (TV), Underground (2008), Sucker Punch (2008), Blade II, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, London Kills Me
  • Eva Longoria: In a World…, Desperate Housewives (TV), Foodfight (voice), The Heartbreak Kid (2007), The Sentinel, The George Lopez Show (TV), Harsh Times, The Young and the Restless (TV)
  • Laura Linney: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (2016), Genius, Mr Holmes, The Fifth Estate, Hyde Park On The Hudson, The Nanny Diaries, Breach, The Savages, Jindabyne, Driving Lessons, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Squid & The Whale, Kinsey, Love Actually, Mystic River, The Life of David Gale, The Mothman Prophecies, The House of Mirth, You Can Count On Me, The Truman Show, Absolute Power, Primal Fear, Congo, A Simple Twist of Fate

BROOKLYN

6 out of 10

UK / Ireland co-production

Release Date: 6th November 2015

Director: John Crowley (True Detective (TV) / Closed Circuit / Is Anybody There? / Boy A / Intermission)

Cast: Saorise Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Jane Brennan, Fiona Glascott, Brid Brennan, Nora Jane Noone, Eve Macklin, Jenn Murray, Emily Bett Rickards, Eileen O’Higgins with Eva Birthistle and Julie Walters

Writer: Nick Hornby / Colm Toibin

Trailer: Brooklyn

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Saorise Ronan: Loving Vincent, Lost River, The Grand Budapest Hotel, How I Live Now, Byzantium, The Host (2013), Hanna, The Way Back, The Lovely Bones, City Of Ember, Death Defying Acts, Atonement
  • Emory Cohen: The Gambler (2015), The Place Beyond The Pines
  • Domhnall Gleeson: Star Wars 8, The Revenant, Star Wars  – The Force Awakens, Ex-MachinaFrank, Calvary, About TimeShadow Dancer, DreddAnna Karenina (2012), True Grit (2011), Never Let Me Go, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows 1 & 2
  • Jim Broadbent: Bridget Jones 3, The Sense of an Ending, War & Peace (TV), The Lady In a Van, Big Game, Get Santa, Paddington, Postman Pat (voice), The Harry Hill Movie, Closed Circuit, Le Week-EndFilth, Cloud Atlas, The Iron Lady, Arthur Christmas (voice), Another Year, Harry Potter- part 8, Harry Potter- part 6, The Damned United, Young Victoria, Inkheart, Indiana Jones 4, Hot Fuzz, Chronicles Of Narnia- The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridget Jones 2, Vera Drake, Vanity Fair, Bright Young Things, Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Gangs Of New York, Iris, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones, Little Voice, Topsy Turvy, The Avengers, The Borrowers, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, The Secret Agent, Rough Magic, Richard III (1995), Princess Caraboo, Bullets Over Broadway, Widow’s Peak, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Life Is Sweet, Erik The Viking, Vroom, Brazil
  • Jane Brennan: The Tudors (TV), Intermission
  • Fiona Glascott: Indian Summers (TV), Episodes (TV)
  • Brid Brennan: Shadow Dancer, Felicia’s Journey, Dancing At Lughnasa, Trojan Eddie, Anne Devlin
  • Nora Jane Noone: Jack Taylor (TV), Assault of Darkness, Beyond The Rave (TV), The Descent 2, Doomsday, Coronation Street (TV), The Descent, The Magdalene Sisters
  • Eve Macklin: 1000 Time Good Night, Roadkill (2015), Titanic (TV)
  • Jenn Murray: Angel (2015), Truckers (TV), The Fades (TV), Dorothy
  • Emily Bett Rickards: Arrow (TV), The Flash (TV)
  • Eva Birthistle: Noble, Day of the Flowers, Wake Wood, Waking The Dead (TV), The Children, Imagine Me & You, Breakfast On Pluto, Borstal Boy, Ae Fond Kiss
  • Julie Walters: Indian Summers (TV), Paddington, The Harry Hill Movie, One Chance, Brave (voice), Harry Potter- Part 1-8, Mamma Mia!, Becoming Jane, Driving Lessons, Wah Wah, Calendar Girls, Before You Go, Billy Elliott, Titanic Town, Girls’ Night, Intimate Relations, Sister My Sister, Just Like a Woman, Stepping Out, Killing Dad or How To Love Your Mother, Buster, Victoria Wood (TV), Prick Up Your Ears, Personal Services, She’ll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas, Educating Rita

 

 

THE CONTRACT (2016)

2 out of 10

Release Date: 16th January 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Nic Auerbach (The Big I Am)

Cast: Robert Fucilla, Danny Webb, Sarah Armstrong, Jonathan Rhodes, Jody Halse, Jack Brady, Dean Bardini, John Davis, Isabelle Allen with Nicky Evans and Patrick Ryecart

Writer: Bo Bickle & David Marconi

Trailer: THE CONTRACT

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The Contract sees the return of no-budget cinema’s Little Bighorn aka Robert Fucilla (MERCENARIES). He’s the London financier that bought himself an acting career but forgot to actually buy any lessons. He’s been away from the spotlight for a few years now and based on the evidence here, he hasn’t been practicing his acting skills anywhere near as much as he should have been. If anything, the break has caused him to present his worst performance to date. At best Robert Fucilla is a bland try-hard. Here he’s expected to be a figurehead of our sympathy as he tries to navigate the worst day of his life. If only the writers had given him a character with half a brain.

By contrast the wonderful Danny Webb (ALIEN 3) plays the bad guy. It’s almost as if he got tired of playing puffed-up walk in roles in real films and he wanted to find a role where he could shout and scream every line. Sadly, the film is badly written, plotted by amnesiacs and about as entertaining as being duffed up by flatulent old people.

So to the bat shit stupid plot – billionaire (ROBERT FUCILLA) turns up at his mansion to find out that it’s been overrun with squatters. One of the new residents is an amnesiac (SARAH ARMSTRONG) who’s on the run because she’s stolen some cash from her boss. Coincidentally, the money transpires to be a down payment for an assassination. Who’s the target? Who’s the killer? Who’s ordered the contract? Who farted?

Less baggy but way less fun than the hard going the director Nic Auerbach’s  The Big I Am, this staggers from scene to scene like a drunk. Annoyingly our main characters are the type of people who put themselves in harm’s way as they are escaping. As small as Fucilla is, he’s crap at hide and seek in this film. He who could hide safely behind a pot noodle  yet he keeps on getting caught and escaping repeatedly from the baddies. Danny Webb is holding Sarah Armstrong’s daughter and him and his gang act like a low-rent tribute to Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth from Blue Velvet. Danny Webb even has a penchant for playing back messages on his phone again and again, a little like Booth’s love of dictaphones. Unfortunately, most films like this are wrapped up in about 75 minutes. The Contract is nearly 100 minutes long. In a few words it was really too much to ask anybody to sit through this boring shite for that long.

With a few more pounds to spend than your average non-film, The Contract still manages to look and feel like amateur hour and that’s largely down to casting Robert Fucilla in a lead that’s expected to carry the whole film on his back. He just looks vexed, foxed, he hits’ things and shouts FUCK a lot. Next time he’s got to spend his millions on a script writer and three years at a theatre school for gnomes who like hair gel.

2 out of 10 – Fucilla, you suck. He’s so wooden he could play the titular scare donor in Robert The Doll 3.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

BREAKDOWN (2016)

6 out of 10

Release Date: 16th January 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Jonnie Malachi

Cast: Craig Fairbrass, James Cosmo, Olivia Grant, Emmett J Scanlan, Amanda Wass, Mem Ferda, Rab Affleck, Richard Cunningham, Brian Nickels, Taser Hassan, Hugh Rose, Natasha Mayo, Bethan Wright with Bruce Payne and Tamer Hassan

Writer: Jonnie Malachi

Trailer: BREAKDOWN

Breakdown-Quad-Poster-Jonnie-Malachi

Here’s an anomaly. Breakdown is far better than it should be. It’s formulaic but succeeds where similar films like Assassin (2015), A Hitman In London, and Survivor (2015) have all stumbled or fell. It stops to give the characters a bit of colour and whilst it’s far from perfect it’s a solid and enjoyable watch for the most part. The film also gives Brit-lunk Craig Fairbrass (BULA QUO!) his first real attempt at a character, as opposed to a type. He’s at last found a project he can invest in and he grabs the opportunity with both hands.

Fans of low-budget action will not be disappointed as our hero Alfie (Craig Fairbrass) takes on his old employers, a shadowy organisation of hitmen (ex-soldiers) called Homefront. It’s not clear what they’re overall mission but in this film ithey seem to work for Turkish gangsters that want to kill other Turkish gangsters.  The brotherhood Alfie’s a part of is overseen by James Cosmo’s (THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMPSON) Mr Chapman. After many years of being their loyal and most prized hitman, Alfie begins to get the jitters. He experiences visions from the past and suffers a breakdown, mid execution which embarrasses his bosses. Given a chance to redeem himself, Alfie fucks up in a different way prompting him to come under the gun by his brothers in arms. He must now protect his daughter and wife from certain death.

OK, so far so formulaic, but why are the scenes between Alfie and his daughter Maya (AMANDA WASS) so convincing and well-scripted? Some of the dialogue is rote but it’s delivered well and its not just in these scenes which take time to establish Alfie’s relationships with his wife (OLIVIA GRANT – INDIAN SUMMERS) and Maya.Elsewhere, there’s signs of attention to care and detail. There are some unusual quirks too. It’s rare that a hitman is given a home life in the movies. It’s even stranger that the wife and daughter are complicit in what the father does. For instance, Alfie takes his daughter deer hunting on Homefront land on the eve of her 16th birthday. Compare a similar scene in Age of Kill and you will see what I mean. This film works. Age of Kill was a dire laughter fest.

Elsewhere, fight scenes are chorerographed and edited with aplomb, its like we’re watching something made for cinema, not a low-rent action clunker. James Cosmo makes his scenes as an eccentric cult-leader-cum-crime lord soar in a role that sways between paternal love and potent fear donation. Bruce Payne (PASSENGER 57) and Tamer Hassan (ROBOT OVERLORDS) show up in unlikely roles, and steal the scenes they’re in too. A quirky, hitman played by unknown Richard Cunningham (45 YEARS) also livens proceedings up considerably.

There are some faults in the storyline – for instance, there’s always, always somebody to rescue Alfie at the last second when he’s in real jam. But the tension is still ratcheted up. I put the quality down to these factors: a) Craig Fairbrass and the usual suspects got sick of being in terrible films about gangsters and hitmen so went out to make a good one, keeping it in the family (Craig’s son Luke produces) and b) there’s something written in the cosmos that there can only be so many bad British films made and then watched by Britpic before a decent one is made by mistake. c) It’s very rare that Craig Fairbrass has had chance to show off how good an actor he really can be (I’d pick this role and his Pat Tate – Rise of The Footsoldier).  I fully expect Craig, Tamer, Bruce and Mem to turn up in the usual kind of ‘2 out of 10’ sh*t they always star in after this. But this is a rare bright spot and it’s existence should be celebrated. Just what did that Turkish guy put in Alfie’s kebab at the start?

6 out of 10 – Astonishingly good considering its constituent parts. The assembly work is impeccable because the actors do some very good work to make this predictable version of ‘Who’d Be a Hitman?‘ entertaining. 2016’s Vendetta? Maybe. Don’t let this be a fluke, gentleman, Craig Fairbrass has got another starring role in London Heist in a few months. You’ve got our attention.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

KILL KANE

2 out of 10

Release Date: 16th January 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Adam Stephen Kelly

Cast: Vinnie Jones, Sean Cronin, Sebastian Street, Nicole Faraday, Dan Richardson, Conor Boru, Benjamin Way, Sarah Alexandra Marks, Michael Bailey, Mitchell Fisher and Jared Morgan

Writer: Andrew Jones, Adam Stephen Kelly & Christian Sellers

Trailer: KILL KANE

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This shocker comes from Independent Moving Pictures who have, in the last 12 months, started a low-budget movie revolution out of Swansea. Producer / Director Andrew Jones (THEATRE OF FEAR) and actor Lee Bane (ROBERT) have succeeded in putting out a string of reasonably competent horror flicks on DVD.  This is the first real misstep in a pretty good long run. It’s also their first star vehicle – stand up Vinnie Jones (SNATCH). The other main difference between this film and the first 9<?> releases is that this isn’t directed by Andrew Jones and Lee Bane‘s nowhere to be seen (he has a tiny off-screen role). Kill Kane is the first feature film by a chap called Adam Stephen Kelly. He’s got a long, long, long way to go and lessons to be learnt.

A restrained and potentially good Vinnie Jones is saddled with an unlikely role as a vengeful PE teacher who wakes up fully functional from a 3 month coma after his family has been murdered by gang footsoldier, Kane (SEAN CRONIN – HACKNEY’S FINEST) and his pals. He’s been left for dead himself. The investigation has been left unsolved by the small town police led by softy Sebastian Street (STAG NIGHT OF THE DEAD). Vinnie goes on a vengeful tour of the town that makes Ray Winstone‘s mope in Fathers of Girls looks like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible. Somehow, he knows were all his victims live, and despite some reasonable acting, the story cannot withstand the legion of plotholes and repetitive and stupid dialogue. The plot has been seen time and time again as the gang are dispatched in no short order right up to the gang leader – who can’t believe his men have been splatted by a PE teacher. Sean Cronin is impressive as the titular Kane and in a better scripted film with a tighter plot, Kill Kane had a lot of potential. As it is characters leave their finger prints all over places for the cops to ‘miss’, weapons are handled incorrectly and ineffectively but still manage to do their job, and a character escapes torture at one point only to run upstairs and cry loudly in a cupboard. Why hide?  There’s a funny fight to the death in the back of a hatchback car in a small garage which ends with Vinnie Jones pnned under a freshly killed gangster. The film could’v ehad more momentum had the film focussed on how Vinnie got out of the car – a gangster version of 127 Hours if ever there was. But invention is off the menu here.  It’s Independent Moving Pictures first non-horror to my knowledge and in three words I can some it up… It’s fucking crap.

2 out of 10 – A rare good performance from Vinnie Jones and up and coming nasty Sean Cronin but nothing can disguise the fact that this is a waste of time, talent and money on all fronts. Star power wasn’t the thing to sink Kill Kane. Bring back Lee Bane too.

PS: Check out the DVD cover. The only flames in this film are seen when someone lights themselves a cigarettes. Good poster though.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?