Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. United Kingdom/France, 2016. Film4, Protagonist Pictures, Rook Films. Screenplay by Amy Jump, Ben Wheatley. Cinematography by Laurie Rose. Produced by Andrew Starke. Music by Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury. Production Design by Paki Smith. Costume Design by Emma Fryer. Film Editing by Amy Jump, Ben Wheatley. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
A group of low creatures enter an abandoned warehouse to do a deal with another group of low creatures, and the process should be simple: one bunch have boxes of guns and the other bunch have money. It is meant to be a straightforward exchange until a conflict of personalities between two characters sets off a chain of events that leads to a streamlined ninety minutes of characters shooting each other over and over again, and the situation goes from commerce to just trying to survive. Ben Wheatley takes a break from the exhausting grandeur of High Rise with another film set in the seventies, this time paying tribute to B-movie grindhouse quickies and whittling the action down to sharp and compact Aristotelian unities of time, place and action. There’s no changing of allegiances, there are no plot twists you don’t see coming, there is only ballistic mayhem and angry people, a concept so bare that you might find yourself trying to read more into it than is there: the possibility of a philosophy behind the action is not an outrageous one, I’m sure you could talk about this microcosm representing human existence where everyone tries to win but no one can escape the inevitable, but even taking the film at its face value there’s no denying that it is well made and also not overly satisfying. Wheatley does not serve up a full three course meal here, but the treats he provides are worth sampling all the same. The whole cast is great, with Sam Riley a knockout as the junkie thug who gets the trouble going in the first place.