(director/writer: Ron Scalpello; screenwriter: Nick Moorcroft; cinematographer: Richard Mott; editor: Peter Christelis; music: Andrew Kawcynski; cast: Sam Claflin (Liam), Timothy Spall  (Clifford Cullen), Hugh Bonneville (Anthony Hammond), Noel Clark (DS Neil Beckett), David Hayman (DCI Raymond Ellery), Charlie Murphy (DS Gemma Connelly), Naomi Ackie (Grace), Shaun Dooley (Eamonn McDonagh), Adam Long (Warren Byford),Lorraine Ashbourne (Pam Cullen), Joe Claflin(Sean McDonagh), Aled Arhyel (Archie), Sam Otto (Nayan Khaliq), Decca Heggie (Jonjo Dixon); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producers: John Sachs/Nik Bower/Laure Vaysse/Andrew Berg; Saban Film; 2019-UK)

“Saddled with a convoluted plot.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

British director-writer Ron Scalpello (“Bobby”/”Offender”) keeps the crime thriller about gangland turf wars that preceded the 2012 Olympics in London, loosely based on real events, moving along at a fast pace with plenty of gunplay and violence (like a woman getting her throat slit) but with not enough of an emotional impact for the viewer to care enough about the injustice shown. Nick Moorcroft is co-writer of this cliched gangster film, that unloads too many side stories to follow in one film and is saddled with a convoluted plot. It also doesn’t help that the uninspiring film is directed by the numbers and that its weak screenplay wastes the performances of its talented cast. Also, the ambitious film does little when it broaches social issues like the compromises over social housing, police corruption and the shady dealings taking place over London’s Olympics.

After the 2012 London Olympics, the good guy ex-con and amateur boxer Liam (Sam Claflin) is released from serving 14 years in prison for robbery and desperately tries to win back the love and trust of his estranged wife Grace (Naomi Ackie) and young son Archie (Aled Arhyel). He has lost everything at the hands of a ruthless local east London crime syndicate run by the well-connected to politicians and the financial world property magnate Clifford Cullen (Timothy Spall), who earlier killed Liam’s scrapyard owner mechanic father (Shaun Dooley) for not selling out to him his property and making the murder look like a suicide.

Besides the catchy villain performances by Spall as the snarling gangster and Claflin as the troubled lad seeking redemption, nifty performances are also turned in by Noel Clarke and Charlie Murphy as the detective team investigating Spall’s corrupt empire and by Hugh Bonneville as the shifty politician pal of the crime boss.

Though entertaining in a pedestrian way, it’s more like a TV mini-series than a feature movie. 

REVIEWED ON 1/19/2020  GRADE: C+