Jason Statham is a rogue cop! Paddy Considine is a gay cop! Which means only one thing - mismatched crime fighting duo! Aiden Gillan is a psycho! David Morrisey is a journo! All of which can only mean one thing - I've been watching low-budget British crime films again. To be specific, I sat through Blitz
the other day, which isn't so much a film as a series of pop videos featuring Jason Statham doing something violent against a backdrop of buildings with lots of glass, frenetically and loosely edited together. As Statham plays one Detective Sergeant Brant, South East London's leading rogue cop, (in an entire station of rogue cops, it seems), this one qualifies, like Harry Brown
, as a vigilante movie. It's clear that the film Blitz most wants to emulate - with its rule-breaking anti-hero and a cop-killer on the loose - is Dirty Harry
. However, with its disjointed narrative, ludicrously over the top violence and flashy direction, it comes over more as a UK equivalent of those 1980s French policiers
with John-Paul Belmondo, or those Italian cop movies of the same period which featured a series of affordable down-on-their-luck minor American stars. (Although a sequence where a police informant is drowned in a toilet seems to be channelling Charles Hawtrey's demise in Carry on Screaming
Indeed, all the sub-plots, (the chief of which, involving one of Brant's female colleagues and her drug problems, is pretty much irrelevant to the main plot), and the plethora of characters who keep turning up with half-formed back stories, gives the impression that the viewer has stumbled into an episode of an ongoing series. (A hitherto unexpected X-rated episode of The Bill
, perhaps). Not surprisingly, Blitz is
the middle of a series - a series of Ken Bruen novels featuring the Brant character and his boss, Chief Inspector Roberts, (who, disconcertingly, falls victim to the cop killer after a couple of brief appearances in the form of Mark Rylance, something which, I'm told, doesn't
happen in the book). The source novel for Blitz
comes slap bang in the middle of the series and, for some reason, the screen adaptation chooses to leave in many of the continuing series plot lines, rather than refashioning it as a properly standalone entity.
Consequently, the finished film isn't always easy to follow, despite having a relatively simple plot: low-life with grudge against police turns cop-killer. However, even the killer's motivation isn't that clear cut - is his grudge against the police generally or Brant specifically? If it is the latter, why doesn't he target him directly, from the outset? An intriguing aspect of the plot which is never properly explored is Brant's culpability in the killings - by implication, the killer's rampage is the result of a brutal assault on him by Brant some time earlier. But Blitz
isn't a film about the psychological complexities of its characters. Instead it's a slick and glossy looking Jason Statham vehicle and, as such, its central character is, effectively, simply 'The Jason Statham Character' he plays in most of his films. You know, the bald headed, stubble faced action man, apparently indestructible, utterly inscrutable and of few words - all of which are delivered in a raspy growl. Don't get me wrong - I like
Jason Statham. He's a better actor and more convincing hard man than either Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal and I admire the way he's succeeded in building himself into a one man low budget movie genre: The Jason Statham Film. All of which makes Blitz
all the more frustrating to watch - with a little more care it could have been a far better vehicle for Statham's talents, the start of a franchise even. Conceivably, it could have kick-started a whole new genre of UK cop movies akin to the French and Italian products. But it wasn't to be.
(An interesting side note is that the Metropolitan Police clearly declined to co-operate with the production, (not really surprising in view of the subject matter). Consequently, throughout the film the force is referred to as 'London Police' and the cop cars, instead of being silver or white, are dark blue and sport no insignia beyond the word 'Police'. All of which gives the movie an agreeably surreal, almost comic book, feel).
Labels: Musings From the Mind of Doc Sleaze