Jason Statham, Aidan Gillen, Paddy Considine
When a vicious serial killer starts targeting cops, suspended police office Brant (Statham) takes justice into his own hands as the Blitz’s body count grows.In Short:
Based on a novel by Irishman Ken Bruen (who’s London Boulevard was brought to screens last year starring Colin Farrell), Blitz is the first adaptation from his series of novels starring Detective Sergeant Tom Brant. In the books, he’s a hard bitten crime novel cliché, in this film he’s Jason Statham.
That’s not exactly a criticism of Statham as a performer, more a suggestion that regardless of genre, period or premise, when you get the Stat to headline your film he’s pretty much always playing the same character. That said, there’s a tiny bit more depth here than we’re used to and slightly less ass-kicking, something which may gall fans of his enjoyable stunt aided flailing.
It all kicks off in suitably high octane fashion as Statham confronts a gang of ne’er to wells trying to steal a car. They’re armed with bats and a carpet knife, he brings a hurley. Not only that, but he names the sport and lets loose the soon to be immortal line; ‘it’s a cross between hockey and murder’. It produced a gust of laughter in my screening – instantly rebranding the film from harsh thriller to damn near raucous comedy.
The film totally belongs to Statham, he controls the pacing, the story and every worthy scene. And it’s his delivery which makes it more than the sum of its generic parts, hamming up innocuous sentences and turning every moment into a punchline. It’s difficult to know if it’s all intentional, he rarely betrays a hint of a smile and with different inflection the dialogue could be stone cold serious. But instead, it’s a riot.
There’s nothing good natured about many of the laughs, whether it’s the awkward attempt to seem nonplussed in the presence of a new gay boss (Paddy Considine) or the casual misogyny of his interactions with women. At one point, Brant is called a dinosaur and the film openly revels in the opportunity to deliberately ignore political correctness. It’s freeing for the audience too – a late on scene shows CCTV footage of Brant beating a felon in a pool hall, and beating him some more, and hitting him with a pool cue from another angle. Mean spirited yes but, in the context of the film, downright hilarious.
This tone does cause some problems with regular narrative essentials like character development – Brant’s one chance to be halfway human is vaporised by a limp quip – but you’ll likely be having too much fun to notice. Fans of Statham’s more high kicking offerings may be disappointed by the meagre action on display here, particularly the lack of many slick, multiple opponent fights. Instead, we get a handful of beatdowns and a nicely realised footchase but it’s all pretty low key and realistic.
There are other performers in Blitz, but you aren’t given much time to get to know them, with only Aidan Gillen’s villain making an impression with an enjoyably over the top turn. Considine is good though the character is basically a punchline and nasty reporter David Morrissey barely gets a look in
Quips, punches and punchy quips are the order of the day in Blitz and, for me, it worked a treat.