Review by Jack Foley
THUS far, Ken Gruen’s novels have promised much but delivered very little in film form.
Last year, London Boulevard boasted one of the best British casts in years and still failed to deliver, while Blitz largely squanders another strong ensemble as well as the screenwriting talent of Nathan (Moon) Parker.
A raw, foul-mouthed and ultra violent crime thriller,Blitz follows a serial killer (Aidan Gillen) as he sets about killing cops in south east London, while a brutish cop (Jason Statham) and his gay superior (Paddy Considine) attempt to find and stop him.
Taken at face value, this should offer good, gritty fun. Statham is a past master at playing strong, moody characters and clearly seems at ease with being given the opportunity of playing a cross between Dirty Harry and Gene Hunt.
Gillen, for his part, has previously proven a great villain, Considine is always good value and there’s support from British acting stalwarts David Morrissey and Mark Rylance.
Yet while Elliott Lester’s film isn’t without its guilty pleasures, it also leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth and suffers from several superfluous and poorly defined characters.
The stage is set from the post-credits outset, as Statham’s no-nonsense copper takes on three knife-wielding ‘hoodie’ youths who threaten to “carve their name into his f**king face”. It’s rough justice, dispensed with relish, that prompts a flurry of newspaper headlines condemning police violence and casting the teenage tearaways as victims.
But it’s about as subtle as the hockey stick Statham uses to bludgeon his victims and comes complete with a head-pounding drum ‘n’ bass score.
Moments later, an attractive female pc is shot in the neck at point blank range – shocking enough, yet dwelt upon by Lester’s camera and supposedly ‘heightened’ by the fact that she’s left choking on her own blood as it starts to rain. Again, the lack of subtlety is amazing, even for a Statham film!
Thereafter, Statham’s cop and Gillan’s villain get to play cat-and-mouse as the dead coppers begin to pile up… while Statham also has to contend with a gay superior (Considine) who he seldom misses the chance to playfully insult, and a slimy tabloid hack (Morrissey) who is a hopelessly stereotyped sleazebag journo.
Parker’s screenplay also throws in a totally unnecessary sub-plot involving an ex-addict policewoman (Zawe Ashton) struggling to beat her addiction and save another hoodie tearaway from a separate assault conviction, which – curiously – deprives the far better Considine of more screen-time and greater character depth.
Fortunately, the film comes alive during its action set pieces, which make use of Statham’s athleticism in typically bone-crunching fashion, even while feeling extreme and sometimes exploitative.
The overall feeling, though, is that Blitz is a crass, often nasty and hopelessly one dimensional urban thriller that prefers to indulge in a thuggish mentality rather than really taking time to explore the shades of grey in which it inhabits. As such, it’s a very big missed opportunity.
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release Date: September 26, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Aidan Gillen interview
- Blitz Photo Gallery
- Watch the trailer