Bald-headed bruiser Jason Statham is DS Tom Brant, a grizzled London copper who plays by his own rules, takes no prisoners and other assorted clichés, in Elliott Lester’s throwback of a serial-killer movie, based on the novel by Ken Bruen.
A seedy, shirtless mass murderer calling himself The Blitz is targeting the coppers at Brant’s station and teasing his hijinks to disillusioned hack Harold Dunlop (David Morrissey).
Teaming up with garlanded detective Porter Nash (Paddy Considine), Brant sets out to stop The Blitz before he strikes again.
It’s a formula tried and tested over decades of whodunit detective noir. The twist offered is a slice of ‘broken Britain’ squalor, served up as social commentary to balance the almost farcical genre elements. Except the two don’t mix, resulting in a jumble of tones that keeps us at arm’s length.
Even the Stath struggles to find his way. As the non-PC Brant, he has a lot of fun throwing homophobic insults the way of Considine’s gay detective. But in moments of gritty drama there’s no place for his schtick.
The tonal shift at least works in favour of Aidan Gillen, who’s such a pantomime villain for most of the film that when he does engage in moments of real violence you feel every blow of his hammer. But he’s the exception.
Is Blitz really the product of Nathan Parker, whose screenwriting feature debut was the impressively complex Moon?
There’s no comparison between the two in terms of accomplishment, though Elliott Lester’s ham-fisted direction can probably shoulder most of the blame for Blitz’s strange hotchpotch of ideas.
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Statham’s cockney Kojak amuses. But Blitz’s hardboiled detective story feels as much of a dinosaur as its lead character and constant shifts of tone make it a tough film to love.