April 13, 2011

Filthy Movie Review - Shank (2010)

Being an Englishman living in America I am used to having to repeat myself, as unbeknownst to me I apparently have an accent. Of course I know that, yet it still amazes me that sometimes although not as much now that people aren’t sure what I am saying. This does, believe it or not, bring me to Shank, an urban thriller from the UK which at times even had me straining to understand what was being said. Such was the delivery of the slang I even considered looking to see if there was a subtitle option. I’ve never had this problem before, even with movies such as kidulthood and adulthood, which are both set in a similar locale and use the same slang. Maybe it was just the delivery in Shank? The only reason I mention this in the first paragraph is that if you have difficulty understand English spoken by the English you may well have a tough time with Shank.

In director Mo Ali’s vision of a London in the not so distant future the economy has crashed, crime has shot through the roof and food has become in short supply. Gangs rule the streets and the police are seemingly helpless to do anything about it. One such gang is The Paper Chaserz, who are lead by Rager. Under his control the gang are a fairly peaceful group, they go about their daily business trying to find food to sell for a hefty profit. This goes pear-shaped though when a rival gang get involved causing the death of one of The Paper Chaserz. Shank then heads into familiar revenge territory and a crosstown journey across the streets of London.

As a movie Shank does use many themes and plot devices that we have all seen before, and at times does come across as very episodic in its storytelling with the gang moving from one confrontation to another. So, on a first glance it would appear that it doesn’t really have all that much to offer as a viewing experience. Fortunately there are a couple of elements that do raise Shank up above the totally predictable. First we get treated to a decent cast of young actors who do seem to be enjoying themselves, especially when they break into song (I kid you not). The banter and interaction between them is quite enjoyable to watch. The second element, and probably the most important, is the direction style of debutant feature director Mo Ali. Shot with an abundance of energy and occasionally incorporating videogame style footage into events, it manages to draw you into the action on the screen. Although it isn’t perfect it does show that Ali is at least trying to offer up something a little different.
Shank certainly isn’t a great film, far from it, by the same token though it isn’t terrible. It kind of falls into that horrible mid-range territory, on the one hand I am glad that I have seen it but I am also in no rush to watch it again.

Overall Shank has a lot of energy, a decent cast and a pretty good soundtrack. On the downside it is a little predictable and in its attempts at authenticity ends up being a little too street for its own good.

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