Tuesday, 30 March 2010

[322] Shank (2010) Review

This is my first review for Film4.com. Too bad it wasn't a better film. Shank is, frankly, awful. Some promise and a great premise - shooting on the Heygate and Aylesbury Estates (which are a stone's throw from where I live), a near-future setting, and a pummelling grime soundtrack.

It's a film of firsts, being the debut feature film credits from director Mo Ali and screenwriter Paul van Carter - not to mention the first original production from veteran distributor Revolver Entertainment - and it does come off as a cocksure, immature attempt.

I also feel terribly sorry for the copywriter tasked with handling the press pack. A big, double-sided glossy number that features a 'survivor's guide', a glossary, and a strange list of binaries about the differences between 2010 and the fictional 2015 ('Nice house vs slum house', 'iPod vs mic: they may not have iPods anymore, but MCs can still spit fire live', 'Gun vs shank', 'Gold chain vs paperclip chain'). It's a riot - topped off by a section dedicated to 'Broken Britain' style clippings, as if that is to give the film some depth or dimension as commentary. If I ever feel particularly mean-spirited, I might post more about it in the future.

In the meantime - here's the review!

No, this isn't a documentary on lamb-loving foodies, this is real urban life, man. Albeit a vision of a prospective future urban life, where guns have been superseded by crude knives - the shanks of the title - to be wielded by rudderless yoofs.

This is 2015: an exaggerated economic downturn has rendered South London a gang-ruled, concrete wasteland, with food scarce but violence rife. At the centre of this chaos is the Paper Chazers gang, a rag-tag bunch of peaceful outsiders, who trade scavenged 'munchies' for money. This is a sweet set up, making moves towards a very British answer to the speculative sci-fi of
The Warriors or Escape From New York, where contemporary social issues, and gloomy city streets, provided canvas for imagination and action.

Shank soon becomes a little awkward, however, with its ambition tempered by uneven execution and a lazy grasp. It all kicks off with a slow-motion, high contrast shuffle through the dystopic streets, as we follow Junior (Kedar Williams-Stirling), the youngest of the Paper Chazers, who acts as our guide through his council estate hell. "Streets proper sticky deez days", he mumbles, as quick cuts lock in time with slamming grime beats. At a dingy market, trotters are luxury food, and a fresh apple is big business.

Read the full article here.

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