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
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?
- Craig Fairbrass: Rise of the Footsoldier 3, London Heist, The Hooligan Factory, Vikingdom, Bula Quo!, Get Lucky, Deranged, St. George’s Day, Devil’s Playground, Freight, Dead Cert, The Shouting Men, Just For The Record, The Bank Job, Rise Of The Foot Soldier, White Noise 2, Dark Days, Proteus, Beyond Bedlam, Cliffhanger, Eastenders (TV), Tucker’s Luck (TV)
- James Cosmo: The Ten Bells, Tomorrow (2017), Monochrome, London Heist, Whiskey Galore (2017), Eliminators, Transpotting 2, Ben Hur (2016), Dark Signal, The Bunker – Project 12, The Legend of Barney Thompson, The Christmas Candle, We Still Kill The Old Way, Citadel, Hammer Of The Gods, Get Lucky, Game Of Thrones (TV), Outcast, Half Light, The Chronicles Of Narnia – The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe, Troy, The Four Feathers (2002), Once Upon a Time In The Midlands, The Match, Babe 2 (voice), Emma (1996), Trainspotting, Braveheart, Stormy Monday, Highlander
- Olivia Grant: Gozo, Genesis, The Devil Went Down To Islington, Indian Summers (TV), Lark Rise To Candelford (TV)
- Emmett J Scanlan: The Fall (TV), Hollyoaks (TV), Hollyoaks: Later (TV)
- Mem Ferda: London Heist, Eliminators, Gridiron UK, Hard Tide, Hyena, Plastic, Pusher (2012), Ill Manors, Legacy- Black Ops, The Devil’s Double, The Crew
- Richard Cunningham: 45 Years
- Taser Hassan: After The Dark
- Bruce Payne: The Rizen, The Antwerp Dolls, Age of Kill, Getaway, Vendetta, Re-Kill, Tales of the Supernatural, Prowl, Dungeons & Dragons, Necronomicon, Passenger 57, Pyrates, The Howling 4, The Fruit Machine, For Queen and Country, Billy The Kid and The Green Baize Vampire, Absolute Beginners, Oxford Blues
- Tamer Hassan: The Promise, Bitter Harvest, Robot Overlords, The Hooligan Factory, Diamond Heist, The Double (2012), Freerunner, The Reverend (2012), Bonded By Blood, Kick Ass, The Hike, Dead Man Running, Goal 3, The Last Seven, Jack Falls, Sucker Punch (2008), City Rats, Cass, Beyond The Rave, Eastern Promises, The Business, The Football Factory, The Calcium Kid