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Review: BLITZ - Diet Coke Jason Statham Thriller

rating: 2

A dingy alley in South London, and three young ne€™er-do-wells are attempting to break into a car. Enter gruff Detective Sergeant Tom Brant (Jason Statham), wielding a massive hockey stick, who promptly delivers some violent justice - and a few choice one-liners - in his gruff, inimitable style, leaving the yoofs incapacitated. Thus begins Blitz with a textbook opening scene of character exposition which loudly proclaims that it is very much business as usual for the Stath. It€™s a cop movie in the Dirty Harry tradition, complete with requisite You€™re-A-Loose-Canon, Mayor€™s-Gonna-Have-My-Ass speech, and director Elliot Lester is at great pains to convey just how Doesn€™t-Play-By-The-Rules our hero is, imbuing every scene we see Brant with a careful illustration of his oldschool characteristics (Brant drinks whiskey in the morning, Brant breaks the kneecaps of a witness, Brant is casually homophobic, etc). This makes for an odd contrast with the plot - a fairly immaterial TV-calibre tale of a serial killer who targets policemen. Tonally, it€™s completely all over the place, zigzagging from brutal depictions of murder, to some €˜light relief€™ as Brant falls asleep in the middle of a conversation, to an entirely extraneous subplot of a policewoman who relapses into drug abuse (most likely surviving in the transfer from the source novel). It€™s clearly a film trying to have its cake and eat it too. Perhaps the casting of Statham, who has a fanbase with concrete expectations, ensured that some of the sillier scenes of badass-ery were quickly shoehorned in. Said fanbase will undoubtedly be appeased - the Stath has never been gruffer, drinking, swearing and fighting his way to the truth as only he can, in a manner that closely resembles DCI Gene Hunt. (€œYou€™re a dinosaur, Brant€, one colleague actually tells him.) Paddy Considine, David Morrissey and Aiden Gillen provide generous support, but they have all had far better roles in far better films, and all are inevitably overshadowed by the spectre of Statham, his stubble threatening to envelop us all. In spite of Lester€™s directorial flourishes, occasionally embellishing his film with some gritty camerawork or a fast-paced, dance-music scored chase scene, attention always returns to our leading man. This is incontrovertibly A Jason Statham Movie, and perhaps for that it suffers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Jason Statham Movies (as our recent foray into the epic Stathamathon proved) and often they are huge amounts of fun, brainless, ballistic and ballsy. But this is a poor fit: a tough guy action hero as a bobby on the beat is unconvincing. If you€™re going to do ridiculous, better to make it all-out ridiculous. As Brant himself might say: no half measures. Blitz is released in the U.K. today and it's going straight to DVD in the U.S. on August 16th.
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