Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Blitz - Dir. Elliott Lester

For the second time in eight months, Irish novelist Ken Bruen has seen another one of his hard-boiled crime stories adapted to the big-screen. While 'London Boulevard' contained a down-on-his-luck gangster attempting to go straight, 'Blitz' instead contains a more cinematic anti-hero, as Jason Statham plays a Sergeant who dismisses everyone, plays by nobodies rules and breaks every law under the sun while consuming large quantities of alcohol. It's disjointed, unintentionally hilarious, and more akin to a cinematic parody of the hit television series 'Life on Mars' than a serious British crime-thriller.

Detective Sergeant Tom Brant (Jason Statham) is a police officer with old school procedures and methods; he rules the streets with his fists rather than his head or his badge. But once a serial cop-killer (Aiden Gillen) calling himself the 'Blitz' starts roaming the streets of London, he must partner with acting Detective Inspector Porter Nash (Paddy Considine) to try and apprehend the culprit before the deranged psychopath seriously injures or even kills any more members of the London Police force. Alongside the main narrative stream, there is also a sub-plot involving a young WPC (Zawe Ashton) who must constantly battle her own personal demons.

The combination of a stale, almost laughable script and the rough, one-dimensional lead actor in Jason Statham instantly renders 'Blitz' as a sub-par crime-thriller. Brant is portrayed as a sexist, prehistoric homophobe who prefers to take witness statements in the Pub as he drinks a pint of beer while dismissing any concerns the witness has about his or her statements. Statham adds absolutely nothing to the character except the fact that he is willing to seriously injure or kill any possible (innocent) suspects without a second thought. His lack of emotion, constant drinking and persistent expression of repressed rage become incredibly old after ten minutes. However, if taken accidentally as a comedy, his hilarious one-liners do provide endless (and unintentional) comedic relief. When asked by a witness he is interviewing if he is taking down his statement, Brant casually removes his pint of beer from his lips before articulating the phrase, "does it look like I carry a pencil?" in a condescending manner. Police work at its finest, indeed.

Paddy Considine and Aiden Gillen do attempt to work beyond their restrictive character profiles, but within the confines of the film and its script, their characters aren't given enough creative freedom to truly provide any emotive acting. Gillen's motive behind his rampage of violence is never fully explored, nor is the initial homosexuality of Considine's character. While it is somewhat refreshing to see a homosexual character on-screen in a position of power where he is still seen as overcoming the prejudice exerted by his peers, he starts by flaunting mannerisms that many would find both stereotypical and offensive to many homosexual males. But once this is eventually toned down, his character, his sexuality, and his motives are allowed to be somewhat expressed and he becomes the one solid character in a sea of stereotypes.

Aside from the lack of depth in character, script or main plot, where the film also fails on an incredibly basic level is in the form of a sub-plot which simply provides no conclusion or relief alongside the presiding storyline. The audience is introduced to a young, up-and-coming female Police Officer called Elizabeth Falls who is shown to have had problems with drugs in the past, but the sub-plot simply ends there. During the final act the spectators are waiting for closure offers no explanation or conclusion to a character, yet the film expects the audience to form an emotional bond with the character and her plight.

If you replaced Jason Statham and his poorly crafted one-liners (including one in which he responds to a female police officer's quip in jest that she is surprised he can even navigate his microwave due to his technophobia with "women are there to use the microwave, and do the typing too") and removed the open-ended sub-plot then 'Blitz' would work perfectly as a made for television hour-long crime-drama. However as a theatrical release, this film is nothing more than a Jason Statham action-vehicle which masquerades as an inferior police thriller.
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