on 27 September 2009
The idea of people being hunted for the sport of others is one that has been a staple of the printed page and the moving picture for a very long time. In fact it is so much of a staple that it seems to have pretty much run its course, but suddenly, along comes New Town Killers and makes everything that is old feel very very new.
Directed by Richard Jobson (yes the Richard Jobson who used to be in the Skids), the film centres around a riveting performance from Dougray Scot as Alistair, a cold and dangerously psychotic financier who gets his kicks from hunting human prey. Alistair has his eye on a new employee for his firm, Jamie (Alastair Mackenzie), and decides to use his game as a way to prove that Jamie has what it takes. The pair decide to target a young lad named Sean (a fantastic performance from James Anthony Pearson), who is down on his luck and desperate to make some money so he can bail his waster sister out of the trouble she has gotten herself into with a couple of loan sharks. Sean agrees to the offer, aware that to win he must simply stay one step ahead of the duo over the period of one night, after which he gets enough cash to solve all his problems. Unfortunately, what he and does not know is that loosing doesn't just involve loosing the money, it involves losing his life.
What we have is basically a cat and mouse game played out across the backstreets and clubs of a brilliantly realised Edinburgh. Jobson is obviously very familiar with the spaces of the city, and uses this knowledge to his advantage in portraying Edinburgh after dark as both beautiful and threatening in equal measures helped along in no small way by the films various action set pieces, and there are any number to choose from. Whether it is a white knuckle chase across the night time rooftops or a palm sweatingly tense pursuit through a nightclub, the film never lets up from the opening moments to the superbly realised denouement.
The film is helped in no small measure by a trio of great performances from the films main characters. Both Alastair Mackenzie as Jamie the man who is in over his head and James Anthony Pearson as Sean the lad who is prepared to risk it all give excellent performances, but this is really Scott's film, and he gives a performance in which he is far more menacing than he ever was in Mission Impossible II.
Aside from a few extraneous moments, such as a rather unnecessary death trap sequence, and a hospital sequence involving one coincidence to many, this is as good a thriller as you're likely to see in a good long time.
This film's Edinburgh set crime thriller, which dips into murky chase torture at times has a sense that 'Lola' (the modern-ish German classic) is going to be parodied.
Obviously pitched at being outside of actual reality, where wealthy landlords, pimps or drug dealers (known in the film as 'private bankers') not only extort their penniless customers but also bait and taunt them, as in some cruel, sadistic game.
Unfortunately, this is no The Third Man (shadowy sinister characters lurking on dark corners), Lola (the 'chase' seems to be mainly driving about in a Jaguar saloon) whilst The Trainspotting vibes resonate most. Except, there simply aren't the oddly likable, charismatic characters in that, for a start. There's quite a few Hitchcockian twists with a silent, weaving camera teasing us, though.
It seems that the whole thing passed me by without making much of an impression. Not sure exactly where it fell down, maybe a bit in each. I daresay I'll have forgotten it by tomorrow. There have been US equivalents that have worked better, maybe for being more villainous, or better written, or better everything. It's not a bad effort, though; it won't sink the indie Brit film scene but very definitely, unlike Trainspotting, won't set it alight either.
on 26 March 2013
What a great little film this is too,clever story, about a boy whos sister is in debt to some bad people.The boy is offered a deal given a wedge of cash in fact more than the £8,000 his sister owes,all he gotta do is not get caught within 12 hours and he is home free.He goes on the run not knowing who to trust,who to turn to on the dark streets.Can he pit his wits against 2 guys hell bent on stopping him.A really good thriller with lots of twists and turns along the way,well recommended and at a giveaway price,well packaged from the seller,this film will not let you down,well acted throughout,fast paced action.Another brit film that looks to have slipped under the radar.Yes a little gem.
Sean Macdonald (James Anthony Pearson) is a down and out parentless teenager who lives with his debt ridden sister on deprived housing estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh [but it could equally be any city]. Along comes Alistair (Dougray Scott) and Jamie (Alastair Mackenzie), two investment bankers who have everything and get their kicks from playing a 12 hour game of hunt, hide and seek with people living on the margins of society. Sean is easily enticed to play their game for a wad of cash, but he doesn't realise the stakes until far too late, by which time he's already running for his life.
Not an original storyline, but it is well executed, with some fine acting from Pearson, Scott and minor roles from Liz White [Life on Mars -the UK TV series] and Karen Gillan [Amy pond from Dr Who]. From the very start the film is claustrophobic in it's portrayal of the depravation and destitution of city life for those on the edge. The chance of easy money soon lures the unsuspecting teenager into temptation and once on the run, the pace never slackens. As the seriousness of the situation grows, so does the tension, claustrophobia and hopelessness of his situation. The entire film is a rollercoaster ride of high and lows as the desperate boy reaches apparent safety, only to have it snatched away time and again.
The film appealed to me from the point of view that watched it on my own and found myself second guessing what he'd do next, something I rarly do with most films and I thouroughly enjoyed it, and having lived in areas that were often very like those portrayed here helped create a sense of realism. Whilst not for everyone, most will not be disappointed with the relentless pace of the film and the dark brooding atmosphere it breeds, but watching it in silence leads you to appreciate the lonliness and oppressive atmosphere, it probably won't view with the same feel with endless conversations amongst the viewers.
on 3 March 2013
And what a game it is too. This dark, chilling and gritty British thriller will have you on the edge of your seat. In my opinion, this is Richard Jobson's best film so far. Atmospheric and beautifully shot. I watched its premiere on BBC1 a while back, and just had to get it on DVD. A masterclass in film making on a low budget. I highly recommend this, and know that you won't be disappointed. I just hope that Richard Jobson's next film, if there is one, is up to this standard.
on 31 August 2009
I rented this out and watched it last night, on the edge of my seat and gasping at what happened on screen. It's about a young man named Sean who discovers that his sister Alice is in debt and needs to find a way to pay it off. When he meets two strange men that offer him a large ammount of money and the catch is that he must avoid them throughout the night, if he can then he gets the money at 9am in the morning. But what Sean dosen't know is that he's on a cat and mouse chase as he can't trust no-one and must run to stay alive to win this horriying game. When the real action starts, it never stops and leaves your jaw dropped to the floor. It feels like a horror movie instead of a thriller, seeing Dougray Scott as a terrifying pschyo made me scream at times but he played his part really well with a chilling laugh and a evil grin. Liz White of Life On Mars fame was very good as Alice as did the man who played Sean though I forgot his name. I highly recommend this film if you love tense thrillers with added horror and a good twist at the end, worth seeing for a rental or buy it's a must see.
I must say that when I first saw this writer/director Richard Jobson creation at the London Film Festival in 2008 I had very high hopes for it - after all the only other Jobson film I had seen was his excellent portrayal of alcoholism in 16 Years Of Alcohol, made five years earlier. However, whilst with the earlier film Jobson had taken a familiar subject and lent it quite an inventive (poetic realism, maybe) take, with New Town Killers, he takes a (for its time, 2007/8) relatively embryonic subject - the all-consuming power of bankers - but (largely) fails to convince with this depiction.
As with 16 Years Of Alcohol, Jobson sets his film in Edinburgh and, via the gritty (mainly night-time) and fast-moving cinematography by Simon Dennis and the impressively eclectic soundtrack (featuring original music by Stephen Hilton and songs from indie bands such as Isa & The Filthy Tongues, The Enemy, Turbo Negro and FlyKKiler), manages to evocatively depict the darker side of Scotland's capital city. However, it is in the film's plotting where, for me, it rather flounders. Although the motivation of bankers Alastair Raskolnikov (hmm) (Dougray Scott) and Jamie Stewart (Alastair Mackenzie) - working for Ethical Finance (geddit?) - in their sadistic game of pursuit with James Anthony Pearson's street-wise Sean Macdonald (who is looking to make some easy cash to settle his sister Alice's (Liz White) drug-related debts) is gradually revealed to us viewers, its underlying nihilistic hedonism ('I did it because I could'), whilst understandably never likely to win the audience sympathy vote, is never really convincing and is also portrayed with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer (far too many dark street chases and an excess of gratuitous violence).
This is something of a shame since the film's concept of the irresponsible power of these Nietzschean 'masters of the universe' and how they might get their comeuppance (even if explored via an 'extreme fantasy world' as is the case with Jobson's film), might suggest an altogether more considered approach. Along the way, Jobson's film is always good to look at and does feature some solid acting turns by Pearson and White as brother and sister, and Scott is suitably suave, but brutal and uncompromising, as 'baddie' Alastair.
on 16 May 2015
Two private bankers, Alistair and Jamie, who have the world at their feet get their kicks from playing a 12 hour game of hunt, hide and seek with people from the margins of society.
Their next target is Sean Macdonald a parent-less teenager who lives with his sister on a housing estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
She's in debt, he's going nowhere fast.
Sean agrees to play for cash. He soon realises he's walked into twelve hours of hell where survival is the name of the game....
basically the British version of Hard Target, and to be honest, not very good. It sounded like a clever film, but really, if someone offered you this task, you would just bunk up in a hotel for the night and sleep out the twelve hours??
The poor kid who gets offered the game isn't the brightest spark, he's carrying all this money around with him, doesn't get a taxi or anything, and just runs around the (very)empty streets.
I know it sounds like i'm taking the fun out of the film, but the makers have done that themselves by making it not very realistic, and using the two villains, as nothing more the eighties reject yuppies who have nothing better to do.
Scott is the only good thing in this, and he's really scraping the barrel now, considering ten years ago he was in summer blockbusters.
It's too mundane, not very exciting, and very predictable.
on 25 August 2012
I have just watched this film for the first time and was delighted when I realised that it was set in Scotland's beautiful capital city of Edinburgh. This is a great thriller and real ' edge of the seat ' stuff. GREAT FILM. ENJOY !
on 6 November 2009
After a fairly neutral performance in 'Desperate Housewives' Dougray Scott goes direct to the dark side in this chase thriller. His character is a nasty piece of work with no morals or anything close to a conscience. As a result, at times its a little difficult to see him as anything other than some kind of robotic Terminator in human form. We never find out why he is the way he is which lets things down a little but there's no denying that he cuts a powerful presence on screen. A teenager has to avoid being caught for 12 hours in order to receive £12,000 to pay off his sister's debts but the kid doesnt realise that a tracking device has been attached to his jacket meaning that the bad guys are never far behind and if they win the ultimate price will be paid. This makes for a tense non-stop chase movie that rarely lets up. There are moments of extreme violence but wisely most take place just off screen - you dont have to see everything to know what's implied and that makes this thriller one step up from the usual graphic unpleasantness. A fairly entertaining cat n mouse chaser that uses Edinburgh very effectively as its night time backdrop.