Director: Noel Clarke
Cast: Emma Roberts, Tamsin Egerton, Ophelia Lovibond, Shanika Warren-Markland, Adam Deacon, Noel Clarke, Michelle Ryan, Kevin Smith, Sean Pertwee
Plot: Four ordinary girls are separated for the weekend, unaware that the four of them are all wrapped up in a major bank heist involving diamonds.
In some ways, we need more British thrillers like this. This film takes the best bits of Kidulthood (the fact that it feels like it has ripped right from the gritty streets of London), but gotten rid of all of the annoying accents and characters. With the tone of that gritty London teenager movie, Noel Clarke weaves a tale we wouldn’t expect to see from this material: a thriller involving diamonds and assassins.
If you ignore the fact that Noel Clarke cannot help but have these women take their clothes off for quite a lot of the film’s running time, this is a girl power movie. The four characters are resilient in their own ways and even when the nastier male characters reduce them to sex symbols or objects, they always come out on top, proving those characters wrong with hilarious results. Ophelia Lovibond plays the outsider of the group, the weird kid who gets lost in her disturbing street art, no one quite understanding what makes her tick. Emma Roberts is the bad-ass girl who just wants to get through her work filled weekend in peace, but standing up to the bad guys for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. Shanika Warren-Markland is the bad-ass lesbian, who men always see for the easy target for jokes but they always get a perfectly-timed quip thrown their way for their troubles. And finally Tamsin Egerton might have the least feminist story in the book (girl meets American online and travels to New York to lose her virginity to him), but it is written in a way that sees Egerton redeem herself as a strong female figure by the end. After what happens to her would-be love interest, I am pretty sure no one will be messing with Egerton for quite some time.
The movie sets itself up, so we jump from one character to the other, almost as if we are watching something akin to a Tarantino, crossed with J.J Abrams action. The stories are told in an order, so we start off totally confused and lost, but as each character gets their story told, the dots are slowly connected. Some will enjoy how everything makes sense by the end, even if it makes little to no sense in the moment. Hell, I quite like how Clarke’s story was carefully constructed and clever in its own way. Others will absolutely hate being left totally in the dark. If the mystery concept doesn’t appeal to you, then the structure of the narrative will frustrate you endlessly. When one climax is reached, we are off to another female to start all over again. It makes 126.96.36.199 seem a lot longer than it actually is, especially when everyone is kept to this break-neck speed. It becomes rather exhausting to watch, as this film is totally devoid of breathers. Clarke might get through a lot of exposition quite smoothly, but it still is an awful lot to swallow. On the bright side, there are quite a few cameos to help keep things fresh, especially if you know your British TV.
Also, while Clarke tries to make this British film worthy of the more traditional thrillers, there is something about it that never quite settles. When the assassins and car crashes kick in, it doesn’t feel as genuine as the realistic, grounded direction wants it to be. The whole ‘this could be any street corner in London’ angle goes out the window, when Michelle Ryan’s mysterious jewel thief character starts shooting up the place. Noel Clarke tries his hardest, but when the more traditional action beats kick in, it doesn’t quite stick as well as you want it to. This is an enjoyable movie, but maybe Clarke should have leaned a little closer to the more traditional action blockbuster side of things if he wanted his interested, yet flawed thriller to convince.
Final Verdict: It’s a nice idea, but fails to take off as well as you want it to. It is fast and slick enough to enjoy, but too many beats just don’t work.