Thursday 9 August 2012

Fly by night: "I Against I"

I Against I is another of those fly-by-night British crime thrillers: too posh for poverty row, exactly, in that one of its three directors is the son of a Hollywood name and much of it takes place around the metal-and-glass boiler rooms of London's Square Mile, but still almost certainly destined to vanish into obscurity, even in the minds of those prepared to spend the time and money seeing it. The idea, at least, is an intriguing one: this is a notionally pared-down pursuit thriller about a low-ranking businessman dragged into the office of the mobster he's in hock to, and given until dawn to bump off the ne'er-do-well suspected of slaying a family associate. As everybody hares about in the wee small hours - and the film gets some idiosyncratic, atmospheric mileage out of its chases along empty dual carriageways - flashbacks clue us in as to how we got to this point.

Unusually, you can imagine it being remade with rather more substantial leads than those we get. Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson, as the ne'er-do-well in question, has the kind of presence and craggily interesting features that have sustained many recent Nordic crime dramas (the film's too breathless to explain how he arrived in the City), but Kenny Doughty, who was being touted as the next Brithunk circa 2001's Crush, proves just too much the non-entity to fully empathise with as the businessman, and - as the kingpin - Mark Womack falls back on more of the unmodulated shoutiness that helped to sink Ken Loach's Route Irish

Directors Mark Cripps, David Ellison and James (son of Richard) Marquand - too many cooks? - display a batty need to overcomplicate their own game, dragging everyone into a (apparently unrelated) drug deal gone wrong to bump up the slender running time, yet even these wayward choices can't entirely torpedo the film; instead, you sit wondering how it's going to get out of the tangle it's got itself in. Having done most of the hard work in tying up past and present, it's just a shame the filmmakers choose a glumly shrugging copout for a finale. Flickers of promise, particularly in its visuals, cinematographer Matthew Whyte giving matters a certain moody, sheeny allure - though you suspect that promise may only be realised in commercials for executive cars or hotel chains, if indeed at all.

I Against I opens in selected cinemas from tomorrow.

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