Neil Maskell plays a former soldier now long-married to wife MyAnna Buring, with whom he has a child he dotes on. Their marriage is at present an extremely stressful one, with the duo frequently having violent rows. In full view of other people, I might add. Maskell and his buddy Michael Smiley work as hitmen, and are currently on a job with the title list of several targets. But as they work their way down the list, Maskell seems to become more and more unhinged, and then things start to take a very weird and unexpected turn. Emma Fryer plays Smiley’s rather Goth new squeeze.
Directed by Ben Wheatley and written by Wheatley and Amy Jump, this genre-hopper has gotten some love by a number of critics, but I found it one of the dreariest and unpleasant experiences I’ve had in a while. A combination of thick accents and hushed/mumbly voices (not to mention full-mouths, especially early on) made the film quite impossible to follow and certainly impossible to care about. Speak the hell up, you mumbly potato farmers! And for the most part, it’s mindless chatter and uninteresting happenings. The opening ten minutes felt like thirty for me, and the choppy editing didn’t help so much as annoy.
Worse, the characters are absolutely horrible (they all behave completely schizo, and not in any way I believe the filmmakers intended), and lead actor Neil Maskell is completely miscast as a supposed hitman. He looked far too ‘Average Joe’ and too baby-faced to be credible as an unstable killer. I get the whole ‘double life’ thing, but you need to convincingly convey to the audience that these people are capable of murder, and Maskell is entirely incompetent. Moody husband? Sure. Professional killer? Get stuffed. Co-star Michael Smiley is a bit better, but his role is a dud. MyAnna Buring is hot, but not enough to keep me from being skull-crushingly bored as Mr. Wheatley takes forever to get to the part where…y’know…stuff happens.
For the most part it’s like an episode of “Heartbeat” crossed with a confusingly plotted “Get Carter”, before the horror comes into play. I guess it really wants to be another “Wicker Man”, but it’s far too late when it finally does throw some horror in. In fact, it’s yet another film that rips off “The Last Exorcism”. The lack of central character development is appalling. We barely have any sense of these characters or the plot. Lots of weird little things go on, without anything really happening and none of it is remotely interesting or appealing.
If you could make any sense out of this film, good for you. I was bored and lost. I hated every single second of this.