Deviation Review

Film Still
  • Deviation film still


Too silly and predictable to be suspenseful, yet there’s menace in the well-chosen locations.

The strange cult of one-man wideboy cottage industry, Danny Dyer, rumbles onward in this shabby low-budget Brit thriller. Here, he plays a psychotic Broadmoor escapee named Frank Norton who carjacks a kindly nurse (Anna Walton) and takes her hostage as part of a doomed attempt to flee the country.

In performance terms, you can’t fault Dyer (present in almost every scene) for effort. Sadly, the discrepancy between his intention and execution is cavernous. Armed with a smörgasbord of ultra-pronounced jitters and twitches, Dyer clearly imagines he’s channeling the likes of Travis Bickle and Jack Torrance. In actuality, it plays as though he’s been possessed by a cruel amalgamation of Rain Man, Rodney Trotter and Zippy from Rainbow. The results are baffling, entirely non-threatening and often hilarious.

Dyer’s thesp histrionics aren’t helped by a rote script that mines movie psycho clichés to an alarming degree. Anger management problems? Check. Sexual inadequacy? Check. Mum and dad issues? Check. Struggles with faith? Check. Frank’s got the lot, and a massive back tattoo of a baby being crucified too. In case the audience is unable to discern that there’s lots of stuff going on in Frank’s head, at one point he helpfully wails: “There’s so much stuff goin’ on in me ‘ead!”

Despite the film’s myriad flaws, writer-director JK Amalou renders a convincingly bleak visual landscape upon which to unfurl the action. It’s a dingy, blasted, late-night London of empty spaces, petrol stations and faulty streetlights which is oddly reminiscent of the poetic, sparsely intimidating Belfast captured in Alan Clarke’s Elephant.

Furthermore, one amusing sequence satirising the media’s fetishisation of criminals adds an unexpected layer of self-awareness to proceedings. As bad as this film is in many respects, it certainly doesn’t glamourise criminality like much of the low rent Brit tripe foisted upon the public in the long, hard wake of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

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