E1 Entertainment // 2010 // 110 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 29th, 2011
Hitting the big time has its price.
Skinner (Leo Gregory) is a low-grade criminal, an entry-level scumbag who's been developing a beef with some other thugs. He's just trying to carve out a piece for himself and it doesn't look good. Then, on one night, his destiny changes: he steals a car and is stunned to find the most powerful ganglord in the city, tucked away in the trunk. And like that, Skinner is neck-deep in a violent turf war.
The gangster takes Skinner under his wing and brings him along on his quest to find out who sold him out and to exact blood revenge. As they dodge bullets and pound noses, Skinner also has to deal with the sexual tension he forges with the boss's girlfriend (Beatrice Rosen) and the shady dealings of a new player, Martell (Michael Madsen, Bloodrayne), another thug looking for a power play.
I think I did a pretty good job with that synopsis. I touched on the violence, mentioned stuff about revenge and blood and even used the word "sexual." Sounds like it could be a humdinger of a crime thriller, huh?
Nah. The Big I Am is striving to be an edgy, hip, badass slice of British noir, but I can honestly say I didn't care about anything or anyone in this film. The film feels like it just tries too hard to be cool, and there's no substance behind the style. Yes, like any British crime movie, the gangsters utter the most disgusting words imaginable at a rapid clip (I'm fairly certain a world record was set for number of times the C-word was belted out) and there are spots of bloody violence. But to what purpose other than to juice its own rating?
Skinner isn't much of an antihero. He's a dick of course, though I was often left wondering why it was that I should be pulling for him to succeed in anything. He's still a criminal. And he's dumb enough to keep rolling with the gang war instead of using what little wit he has to figure out a way to emigrate to Finland or something. Maybe it was because Beatrice Rosen -- who is ridiculously gorgeous -- threw herself at him. If so, well, then I totally understand.
Perhaps if the narrative had been more absorbing there could have been some merit, but the big twist isn't difficult to decipher and though the editing and pacing makes it seem like there's a lot happening, in truth, this is a slog of a hundred minutes. The side story with Skinner's local enemies coming back to screw around with him only to end up in a predictable sequence where Skinner turns the tables on them with his new mojo and gangster pals? Cliched and runtime filler.
I'll give this the mildest of recommendations, only if you're desperate for foul-mouthed Brits exchanging gunfire.
A lean DVD: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, zero extras.
Guilty. Go wash out your mouth with some Dial.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R