Bradford Film Festival 2010 - Day 6

Todays films all shared a general crime theme.

Hammered (UK) - A short film alongside The Last Action. When a cat burglar is caught sneaking around the house of a middle-aged couple, he gets a hammer-shaped lump on his head. Waking to find the husband and wife arguing over him about the consequences of their actions, the husband lets a side of him out his wife never knew he had. Darkly comic but an interesting take on revenge, and the defence of the home. 7.5/10

The Last Action (Pol) (trailer)

In general, Polish films are a good place to start with world cinema. They are quickly maturing and have comparable production values to their English language counterparts. There is however still a lag between those film studios who use up to date equipment and those still using the same cameras and sound equipment from 20 years ago. It is the result of this that was my first impression of The Last Action, a comedy-crime caper about a gang of elderly ex-gangsters and soldiers. It was clear that the effort had gone into the plot and the scenery and getting the script right, with the limiting factor being the slightly muffled sound quality and a slight graininess in the video transfer.

Zigmunt is an old man now; once part of the Free Army, but back in his old town to visit his family and an old flame. However, on seeing both his son and grandson get beaten up by a pair of heavies in the pay of one of his ex-adversaries, he calls on some old contacts, some of which didn't leave the group on the best of terms. The conflict deepens when a rare and priceless Faberge Egg is discovered on the mantelpiece of Zigmunt's old squeeze, and when cordial offers of money from the other side don't make them sell, guns seem a more immediate resolution.

Aside from the aforementioned slightly disappointing quality of the film, it had a distinct personality, taking cues from films such as Oceans Eleven and a few flashes of the cocky smartness seen in a Guy Ritchie or Tarantino film. But to compare this film too much with these names would be to oversell it. The novel angle of elderly types getting back in the saddle is enough to make a film out of, but it suffered from a dearth of characters, many of which play little part over the course of the film except to suggest Zigmunt's gang was large and powerful. It all seemed to be over before it had started as well; there was little build-up of suspense or tension, and when things reached a head, you sort of expected things to go a lot further. An entertaining film in places, with an odd laugh or two, but by and large forgettable. This is director Michal Rogalski's first big screen work, and though he missed the target this time, it has enough promise to make him a major name in the future. 6/10

Perrier's Bounty
(Irl/UK) (wiki)

Another gangster flick, this time set in an unknown run down city in Ireland. Michael is a young man living in a flat in a rough area. On the floor below lives Bren, a girl who he has a thing for, but she won't leave her cheating boyfriend. Jobless and aimless, he has a habit of getting himself into trouble, particularly now that he has less than a day to return the €10,000 he was lent by the local gangster, Perrier, with added interest.

A local hard man named Mutt appears to have the answer, he is planning on a burglary soon and wants Michael with him to help carry out the larger stuff, in return for the cash he needs, but it's days away and attempts to postpone the broken limbs Perrier has promised on the deadline don't work. Perrier sends round his two goons and a baseball bat, and when Bren shoots them with the gun she was going to use on herself after her boyfriend left her once more, the stakes are upped significantly. At the same time Michaels' estranged father Jim (played by a surprisingly thin Jim Broadbent) has turned up out of the blue; he wants to spend time with his son after having an epiphany about his mortality.

Once the elements are put in place, it's a standard but entertaining race to the end where some people fall to the bullet, while others change sides and either help or hinder the trio in getting out alive. It's sharply scripted with (again) some Guy Ritchie influences creeping in, although this feels less polished and blokeish and more rough and visceral, which for me was a good thing. It's well acted, well shot and entertaining, with some darkly amusing dialogue as the main characters get to sound off in the stare of the camera. 8/10

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