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Review by Cassam Looch

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

IN A FUTURE populated by braindead slappers and posing morons with weapons (you’d be forgiven if you had the misfortune of watching any modern day music video for thinking this was already the case), food has replaced money as the commodity of choice.

A group called the Paper Chaserz make their way to rob a van carrying food but are caught out by a rival gang. When their leader is stabbed in the fight, his younger brother sets out for revenge… with his friends in tow.

The plot for futuristic British urban movie Shank is laughably thin; it consists of the group going from one location to the next asking a series of nonsensical questions and then moving on.

Along the way, they meet another group of ‘eccentrics’ or larger than life characters (with the obligatory lame voice-over and visual cues for the stupid) before they set off again to do the same thing for what seems like an eternity.

This is supposed to be building up to a grand finale of some sort… which proves to be as misjudged and lamentable as the rest of the film when it finally arrives.

The style is very much haphazard and impossible to fathom. Everything is thrown at the screen in a desperate attempt to get your attention. It screams of ‘Look at me! Look what I can do!’ But all you end up thinking is: “I really don’t care!”

The film is delivered to you in CAPITAL LETTERS, while the incessant soundtrack punctuates every scene and is interminable. What’s worse, the music is poorly edited and rarely coincides with the action on the screen… indeed, it just seems like friends of the people involved in the film getting an undeserved leg up by appearing on the soundtrack – either that, or the budget ran out on unnecessary cameos, none of which can save the film.

Most worrying, though, is the fact that this is exactly the type of garbage people will point to when saying the British film industry is in a healthy state.

They will claim that it is a contemporary piece of work and aimed at the ‘Youth-Generation’ (not my words I assure you!) and, as such, anyone who doesn’t get it is too old or not in tune with the street culture that the film focuses on.

No! People won’t get it and have been negative about it because they have taste and want films that ideally entertain and inform or at the very least don’t force them to leave the cinemas within five minutes.

Shank manages to capture not only everything that is wrong with the British film industry, but also has a really good go at glorifying and glamourising the worst aspects of British society.

There’s one point where one of the characters laments a fallen comrade by saying: “All he was trying to do was make an honest living…” But this ‘honest’ living constituted mugging, thievery and violence with general anti-social behaviour thrown into the mix. Great.

The moral compass of this film is permanently point towards idiocy. It’s the pursuit of violence and the need for revenge that drives the story all along and yet somehow there are attempts to pitch this as an anti-violence film… no chance!

This is as bad an example as I can think of and infinitely more dangerous than the plethora of so-called video-nasties that have been banned and lambasted in recent years.

The occasional visual flourish is quickly over-used and rendered pointless by repetitiveness. Although the director must shoulder some of the blame, the film is crippled by an atrocious script and bargain-basement production.

Why this script was greenlit is a mystery, and how no one spotted the flaws earlier on is remarkable. I’m familiar with the director’s previous work on the music scene, and will take this opportunity to say that I think he can do much better than what has been offered up here.

But just as Old Dogs may well represent the nadir of Hollywood this year, I suspect (and hope) I won’t see a worse British film than Shank any time soon.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 26, 2010