The Gherkin; the London Eye; Tower Bridge; Marble Arch; London’s red buses and black cabs – from the opening shot of the city’s skyline, first time writer-director George Isaac (Kidulthood producer) makes sure you know where his crime thriller is set, and it’s an ambitious debut, if one that borrows a little much from its influences.
In Isaac’s hands, London’s a sexy, photogenic city, the iconic streets and buildings given a shiny, glassy sheen that shows the capital in a light not often seen.
For his debut, Isaac signed up a raft of top drawer Brit talent, too. Gabriel Byrne is on reliably good form as the ‘merchant’ of the city, the head crime bod, with whom Rufus Sewell’s crooked copper Parker becomes entangled as a web of double crosses, bank robberies, and power games play out.
It’s a film about corruption, and the necessary decisions to make it to the top – whether this be in the world of crime or law enforcement.
Isaac’s clearly in love with crime flicks about the game between those on both sides of the law and the morals that define them – movies such as Michael Mann’s Heat (from which Isaac cheekily pilfers the odd dialogue influence) and Scorsese’s The Departed even, but with a more modest budget.
Despite this, Isaac gets it all on the screen, also throwing in a daring bank raid and a car chase through the Big Smoke’s narrow streets.
But in his desire to hit the requisite plot points, he sacrifices depth and backstory (why’s Parker such a bastard?) and his direction’s often a little flat. But the final reel’s wrap-up is smart and sharp. Not a classic, but Isaac’s one to watch.
Good for: Fans of London and crime flicks – especially when they’re matched up
Starring: Rufus Sewell, Toby Stephens, Gabriel Byrne | 15 | 84mins