UK crime dramas continue to fascinate me. They're basically the same as the US ones, but with constant nuances that remind you you're watching Something Else. Sometimes it's almost as if you're watching something in another language, depending on how much slang is being tossed around, but my Monty Python and classic Dr Who upbringing seem to help me cope with the accents well enough. I do find it fun how serious it is when a bad guy has a gun and sorely wish it were that much of an unusual occurrence in the US.
Unfortunately this particular UK crime drama is effectively an overlong episode of Law & Order with slightly better cinematography. The plot certainly isn't out of place in your average TV crime drama and the movie strives for a level of seriousness that it just doesn't quite merit. Full marks for effort though and if I look at it as a made-for-TV movie, it's perfectly fine. Could have done without some of the miss-steps into melodrama land and they could have kept it much tighter time-wise. I'm sure the police chief and girl cop were intended to give extra emotional punch when they're killed/threatened, but not really any reason to get that involved in them, so it's just wasted screentime.
Statham is quite fun as the highly-prone-to-violence cop and he plays pretty well off his partner for the most part. Another excellent opening sequence to establish his badassery by letting him beat the crap out of 3 would-be car jackers. Very nice fight sequences throughout and some great chase sequences as well. Lots of fun gunplay and some decent one liners to round things out. Unfortunately this type of role is just way to ordinary for Statham. They do a damn fine job setting him up as a badass, it's just a fairly dull and lifeless movie to be a badass in. Quite the contrast coming fresh off The Mechanic.
The supporting cast is pretty meh for the most part aside from the temp chief/partner. Quite liked him and he and Statham have some good moments together, but they really blew it on the casting of the maniac. Need someone vastly more menacing than Scrawny Masturbator Guy if you're going to have someone systematically kill a whole slew of cops. Sure, he gets to kill plenty of people and it is admittedly nasty when he stomps on the one kids face and breaks his neck on the curb, but he seems almost bored while doing so. Not sure if he was going for the tightly-controlled emotions thing or what, but during the film's climax when he's tailing Statham's car and checks his blind spot and signals for a dramatic lane change (I kid you not), it's sort of hard to feel terribly threatened by the guy.
Badassery Quotient - Er...
Not really sure how to call this one. He kicks plenty of people in the face, there's adequate gunplay, chase scenes aplenty, and oodles of menacing glares... It's just in the midst of such a dreary and blah movie that it really diminishes the effect.
Rewatchability - Rarely
I could see watching this again for the buddy cop angle and there is some great action to be had, but it's pretty hard to keep your attention focused for the duration. I wouldn't suggest people actively avoid it, but don't see any point in really recommending it to anyone. Hmmm... That seems to be my reaction to most of his films.
Up next - Killer Elite. Another excellent 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon connection via Robert DeNiro. Also has Clive Owen who I usually quite like, but doesn't otherwise look at all promising. Did this even come out in theaters?