Starring: Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, Aiden Gillen, David Morrissey, Luke Evans, Zawe Ashton

Director: Elliot Lester

Writer(s): Nathan Parker, Ken Bruen (novel)

Cinematography: Rob Hardy

Original Score: Ilan Eshkeri

Running Time: 97 Mins.

The last film to be based on a Ken Bruen novel was the gritty gangster flick London Boulevard, it wasn’t all that well received and failed to make much impact at the box office. A great shame as it had a lot of great elements despite a slightly mixed tone that didn’t always gel all of the ideas together as I suspect the film-makers intended. So to Blitz, the second of Bruen’s novels to find itself spawning a film adaptation, Blitz also suffers a similar issue though as with London Boulevard it doesn’t hinder the overall enjoyment of the finished product. The setting is the same, inner-city London and like that film the landmark spots are thankfully avoided and in place is a grittier nd more grounded tour through many grey back alleys, grimy apartment blocks and the central hub of a police station. These are not unusual spots to see Jason “The Stath” Statham frequenting whilst beating the hell out of all and sundry who cross him, an example of this opens the film and sets the tone for a London based Crank/Transporter/Mechanic clone…thankfully this is a misleading first 5 minutes.

Having established Statham’s DS Brant as an alcoholic hard-ass who doesn’t take any messing (quite frankly he was never going to be anything else was he), we see he has been in the papers and bringing down the name of his station by being a little too rough and ready (again, no surprise there), but what would you know, he’s a good guy after all and he gets the job done. Oddly following the initial bout of Brant kicking ass there is little in the way of action and the story kicks into gear, a cop killer is on the lose and who better to catch him than DS Brant. This being a cop film Brant needs a mismatched partner, this time in the shape of Paddy Considine’s Porter Nash, the rub being that Nash is gay and frequently ribbed because of it. Inevitably there are some cheap shot jokes from Brant but they form a mutual understanding (shocker there) and set about finding the “Blitz”, occasionally breaking the rules to get the job done.

If this all sounds a little trite, it is, but the whole thing is handled with it’s tongue firmly inserted in cheek, the dark vein of humour is much like that in London Boulevard but as mentioned before so to does the tone jar a touch. Alongside the solid (but run of the mill) police investigation story is the personal plight of Statham with only one or two misplaced punch-ups thrown in (presumably to appease fans of The Stath). The truth is the guy can act, if only in one style, and in the correct role it works wonders, as it does here, whether he is consoling a grieving colleague or pursuading a snitch to talk, he convinces. Similarly Considine is as great as ever, showing yet another bow to his very wide range, Nash is subtle and quiet saying on what needs saying and downplaying his sexuality where it easily could have been ramped to OTT and unconvincing levels in the wrong hands.

The clincher for me though was the handling of the plot, someone killing cops is hardly a new concept as it turns the investigating police in to avenging angels, but the perpetrator (Aiden Gillen) is a truly memorable villain, wronged by Brant in the past he is a true nutcase and convinces as one too, yes he IS OTT but dials it down enough when needed to be more than a mere cartoon character pyscho, and when the three central characters finally meet it makes for an explosively tense showdown. But yes, as I said it is far from perfect, the subplots (involving a druggie wannabe Sergeant and a dodgy reporter in the form of David Morrissey) are weak and lifeless adding little to the overall package and it won’t win any prizes for originality or subtlety but as a Friday night crime thriller you could do a lot worse.

VERDICT

Don’t let the poster mislead you, Blitz is a vehicle for “The Stath” but he spends more time investigating than bashing in heads. This though is a good thing and throw in Paddy Considine and Aiden Gillen and you have the recipe for a very enjoyable, though far from original, crime thriller with bite.

Back in the dark recesses of last year’s news archives there was news that Shane Meadow’s was starting work on a screenplay for King Of The Gypsies, with Paddy Considine piling into the gym to play the titular character, bare-knuckle champ Bartley Dorman.

It’s something of a good news/bad news day for the project then. The bad news is that King Of The Gypsies is currently being held up by unspecified legal problems; the good that, while lawyers pore over the script, the prospect of a Meadows dream-team drew one step closer, with the ever-excellent Toby Kebbell (Dead Man’s Shoes, Rock n Rolla) putting his hand up for a part.

Newly-nominated BAFTA Rising Star, Kebbell told us of his ambition to work with Meadows again. “I would love to play Bartley Gorman as a younger man. He was a phenomenal character – a ridiculous, animal of a man, with a head the size of a barrel. So hopefully we’ll do the film. Paddy will play him [Gorman] as an older man and I’ll play him younger, or Paddy will play him and I’ll play one of his brothers.”

No doubt a more brutal take on the bare-knuckle world than Snatch, a feature-length King Of The Gypsies has been a long-time dream project for Meadows, who made a short doc on the subject for Channel 4’s Battered Britain series. Watch this space for more as we get it.