Review by Jack Foley
NOEL Clarke can’t be faulted for ambition given that he’s determined to make the type of movies that are more commonly associated with the American market… in Britain.
Hence, 126.96.36.199 is designed as a hip mash-up of Go meets Pulp Fiction with a little Amores Peros thrown in.
But the result, while delivered with a gusto befitting the youth market it’s aimed at, pales by comparison to the Doug Liman-Quentin Tarantino blueprints that inspired it.
The plot follows three days in the lives of four girls – Shannon (Ophelia Lovibond), Cassandra (Tamsin Egerton), Jo (Emma Roberts) and Kerrys (Shanika Warren-Markland) – as they become unwittingly embroiled in the fallout from a jewel heist while trying to sort out their own day-to-day baggage.
For the depressive Shannon, this is trying to get her friends to take notice of her woes; for Cassandra, it’s losing her virginity in New York; for Jo it’s surviving the night shift at a job she hates, and for Kerrys it’s getting one over her lippy brother while having a good time.
Each girls’ story gets its own segment and Clarke – who co-wrote and directs – makes sure they all come together in the end. But while some of the ensuing mayhem is fun, a lot of it feels derivative and straining a little too hard for coolness.
Part of the problem lies with Clarke’s script, which panders a little too heavily to the Adulthood crowd that helped make his name and drops a few too many “gangsta/urban” indulgences.
But a lot of the characterisations are are skimpy as the girls’ outfits and you never really get to care about anyone as much as you did the protagonists in Go… and this is in spite of some decent performances from its four attractive leads.
But then, the story just isn’t that gripping, either, with the various segments seemingly devoted to FHM or Nuts inspired sexual hijinks or, worse, laddish male bravado (as exemplified by the extended cameos afforded to Clarke and Adam Deacon).
The New York segment, in particular, feels like a tawdry trawl through date rape and retribution that’s churlish, if not offensive, while Kerrys’ segment is all about attitude and lacks any humanity.
That any of the girls shine is testament to their ability more than the script, with Lovibond and Warren-Markland making the most of their moments in the spotlight to take-notice effect.
Roberts, too, displays an edginess not usually associated with her and lays down a nice marker for the future… and Clarke is to be applauded for giving his girls the platform from which to shine.
But in most other respects, this feels like a slice of ill-advised ego-stroking from Clarke that aims high high but shoots low, right down to its forgettable cameo from Kevin Smith.
Hence, what could have become a hip homage to the likes of Liman and Tarantino instead feels like a low-brow also-ran with few decent ideas to call its own.
Clarke can and will do better, as will his girls… but for now this feels like a really wasted opportunity.
Running time: 117mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 4, 2010
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Noel Clarke interview
- Emma Roberts and Shanika Warren-Markland interview