Sunday, September 25, 2011


Hot Pursuit

Jason Statham is my go to guy when I'm in need for an action movie fix, and he's quite the versatile bloke where filmmakers can put him in a support role or to marquee their film, having what it takes to be playing either the hero or the villain. I'm waiting to see if one day he'll venture out of his comfort zone into where many action stars have gone into - comedy - though I'm perfectly OK if he sticks to what he does best. In Blitz, Statham plays Detective Sergeant Tom Brant, a tough (what else?) cop with a track record for brute force and violence during the course of his duty, and sometimes outside of it, and as an introduction to his tough as nails character we see him break a bunch of carjacking thugs, only for the opening credits to end with him and his police precinct being under the scrutiny of the public no thanks to attention seeking journalistic sensationalism.

Being muzzled by his chief to keep a low profile in the meantime, you know you can't put a good man down when eventually a serial cop killer is on the loose, and the force has to unleash their best officer for the job, teaming up with new transfer Detective Porter Nash (Paddy Considine) who himself has a little bit of a baggage brought with him to this new part of the city. Blitz soon becomes your atypical buddy cop movie, only with a darker theme and environment. The narrative by Nathan Parker based upon the novel by Ken Bruen surprisingly sprawls just beyond this cat and mouse hunt, involving fellow cop Elizabeth Falls (Zawe Ashton) who has returned from undercover duties and rehabilitation to kick her drug habit no thanks to the occupational hazard, a juvenile she's trying to protect and a budding romantic subplot between her and fellow cop (Luke Evans), as well as that of a police informant and his decision to make money with his intelligence rather than to offer them for free to the cops, which in a way ties it down back to Tom Brant and his treatment of people around him.

As such the film also tackles other themes such as the role the press plays especially when you have unethical reporters and their publications making compromises in order to gain exclusive scoops. With wrong intentions, villains can be made heroes especially when it involves something that can sell stories and papers, and heroes can be made villains when the one wielding the pen happened to be rubbed the wrong way. Then there's the usual friendship and camaraderie inherent in most buddy cop pictures, and how pride is one of the largest sins that can play a big part in influencing the way we behave, which is interesting since the villain has such a huge ego, it makes it a lot more satisfying, or lack thereof, when the cops cannot pursue any further due to the lack of evidence - which Law Abiding Citizen already mentioned how everything boils down to what you can prove in a court of law.

The villain Blitz, as he calls himself, may not be an instant cult classic to be put into the cinematic rogues gallery, but Aidan Gillen does enough to make you love to hate him, as he goes about his twisted one man crusade to fatally wound policemen in seemingly random fashion. Aidan Gillen plays him over the top, taunting and toying with his would be captors, snapping because of a bruised ego which Statham's detective engages in what would be one of the highlights in the interrogation room. Those looking for Statham to kick some serious rear, like myself, will be a tad disappointed that he doesn't have many scenes to flex those muscles and do just that. Paddy Considine turned out to be a surprise package of the leading trio thanks to time devoted to his character's backstory which provided for a more multi-faceted persona able to sustain a mild running jokes, at his expense of course.

On one hand the ensemble cast provides director Elliot Lester with an opportunity to tell a larger story, but in a certain way this meant cutting down the focus on the central plot involving the trio of Tom Brant, Porter Nash and Barry Weiss aka The Blitz, which could have been made more intense if not for only a handful of scenes that they get put together, with almost no differentiation between Tom Brant and Porter Nash as their friendship converges and make them pretty much one and the same type. The finale may not sit down well with some since it's miles away from being politically correct, and there will be those who take offense at how it suggests police brutality remains a glamorous option if the system breaks down and does not work, leaving those seeking justice to succumb to a perversion of something they are obligated to uphold.

But in the context of this film, it sure gave a satisfying feeling to end it all.


WiseKwai said...

I saw Blitz today and while I was generally entertained, I was chilled by the depiction of police brutality - however justified they felt it was against the cop killer and other lawless thugs.

What really creeped me out was when I got up to leave at the end only to see five Thai cops, in uniform, who'd just watched the movie. Couldn't help but think they were taking notes.

I was reminded by Hot Fuzz, thanks to Paddy Considine, and the official vocab guidelines about the police being called "the service". "Force" is "too aggressive". But that doesn't apply to Statham and his hurling stick, crowbar and pit bulls.

Felt the movie dragged when it dealt with the female officer, even though I enjoyed her performance. Basically she existed to add a women's role to what was essentially a guy's movie.

Stefan S said...

Hi WiseKwai, that makes two of us watching this film today... If I do see cops in uniform watching this, it will creep me out as well!

Yup, her role dragged on, and I would have preferred more scenes between Statham and Considine, then it'll firmly put this in buddy-cop territory :-)

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