Millennium Entertainment // 2011 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard // August 18th, 2011
"A word of advice, girls. If you're picking the wrong fight, at least pick the right weapon."
With the promise of some serious "Cop-Killer Versus Killer-Cop" action, Jason Statham's latest is in truth a surprisingly low-key affair that puts the action on the backburner. Still, with a stellar support cast, this Brit thriller should pick up with the Blitz DVD the audience that it failed to draw to the multiplexes.
When police officers become the target of a serial killer who calls himself Blitz (as in Blitzkrieg), it's up to no-nonsense Detective Sergeant Tom Brant (Jason Statham, Snatch) to track him down. Aided by DC Porter Nash (Paddy Considine, Dead Man's Shoes), Brant must delve into South London's criminal underworld, to uncover the identity of the killer before it's too late.
Blitz is confirmation that having paid his dues in action dross like The One, Jason Statham is now a genuine, A-list action star. No longer does Statham play a character, no, just like Arnie, Stallone, and Willis before him, nowadays Statham is the character. Playing the "totally un-PC cop" Tom Brant, everything you'd expect from Statham is here, from the gruff delivery and crabby demeanor to the ability to kick more ass than Batman. With Blitz, however, Statham returns to territory more akin to The Bank Job than The Mechanic. There's noticeably less skull cracking here than fans of "the Stath" may have hoped for, and to both the film's merit and its detriment, Blitz is driven more by character than action.
Despite a crowd-pleasing pre-credits sequence that sees Statham take a hurling stick (a game that he describes as a cross between "hockey and murder") to a bunch of would-be car thieves, the opening acts sees the film's narrative lurching awkwardly from scene to scene as it struggles to establish both its characters and plot; so at the same time as Blitz is beginning his reign of terror, we learn that Brant is under fire from his superiors for his heavy handed tactics in dealing with violent crime. This continual shift in focus means that the majority of Blitz's crimes lack the shock factor they are aiming for, as we're often predisposed with Brant's anger management issues. The film gradually begins to settle down during a fairly formulaic second act that is livened up thanks to its central trio of Statham, Considine, and Gillen; all three aiming to prove who the grittiest S.O.B. really is. Statham is, well, he's Statham -- you know what to expect by now, but it's Considine who arguably gets the more interesting role. Playing the openly homosexual police officer Porter Nash, his character could easily have slipped into cliché; but despite his well-groomed appearance, Nash is every bit the ball-buster that Brant is. Ridiculed by his colleagues for being a "poofter," Nash reveals a dark side that gives him an edge, and it's just a shame that he get so little screen time. Aidan Gillen (The Wire), on the other hand, is pure evil. If his role is one dimensional, Gillen at least brings an undeniable charisma to it, and is positively menacing, as he boldly sets about murdering cops in broad daylight with a cocky swagger. Equally impressive in their supporting roles are David Morrissey (The Reaping), as the scumbag hack Harold Dunphy, who spies a career boost when he gets inside information on the killings, and Zawe Ashton as a WPC who finds her work and personal life coming into conflict.
Director Elliot Lester, working on only his second feature behind the lens, delivers a suitably gritty looking thriller. Blitz is intentionally lacking in showy set pieces, instead preferring to deliver short, sharp explosions of violence that rarely glamorize the acts they portray. That said, there are one or two issues that lose Blitz points. Admittedly hampered by Nathan Parker's screenplay (itself based on Ken Bruen's novel of the same name), Lester fails to build enough tension during the film's climax, which sees Blitz go out on a whimper. Although it adds a little depth to the character, a subplot involving Ashton's struggles to shake off her past never really goes anywhere, and feels like nothing more than filler. Going back to the screenplay for a moment: though the cast does well to disguise it, the dialogue is all too often clichéd -- occasionally embarrassingly so, whilst major plot developments hinge on some seriously wonky logic.
The barebones DVD release of Blitz comes with a solid 2.40 anamorphic transfer. Colors are muted, which adds to the film's gritty aesthetic, while detail levels are good with a sharp picture throughout. Black levels are solid. The 5.1 soundtrack offers crisp vocals, while background effects add to a lively mix, underpinned by the film's score. The retail copy promises to include a digital copy of the film.
Like The Bank Job before it, Blitz is Statham-lite. Don't expect any of the action packed mayhem of The Transporter, as this is a fairly routine thriller, albeit one blessed with a central trio that raises the interest level, but ultimately still fail to make it essential viewing. A worthy rental -- or a purchase for fans of Statham -- Blitz is solid, if unspectacular, entertainment.
Review content copyright © 2011 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Millennium Entertainment
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Digital Copy