Outlaw (2007)

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I have never seen a Nick Love film before. Films such as The Business and Football Factory hold no interest for me, I find the whole ‘lad’ culture thing very unappealing. On the IMDB discussion forums, or bitch boards as I commonly refer to them because of the constant flaming, I recently noticed a post debating whether Shane Meadows or Nick Love is the best current British film maker. With this in mind I decided to see whether this comparison is justified.

Before I go any further I should add that I regard the revenge/vigilante film as one of my favourite sub-genres. I am not sure why, though I am told that it could be because I am a Libra and have a strong sense of justice. Personally, I believe that Astrology is nothing more than hocus crap but what the heck, it is a good justification! I have lost count how many times I have watched the Death Wish film series, The Exterminator, Righting Wrongs, Vigilante, the Dirty Harry films, Street Law etc. So when I found out that a contemporary British revenge film was being released I naturally got quite excited and perhaps built this one up a little too much.

The premise is excellent. A group of British men are becoming disillusioned with society, particularly the rise in yob culture and violent crime. A soldier, Sean Bean, returns from duty in Iraq to find that his wife has a new man and a group of teenagers are disrespectful towards him. He meets a security guard, played by the excellent yet unsettling Sean Harris, who is obviously an avid reader of The Sun and wants to do something about his country. Naturally Sean Bean has an arsenal of weaponry he has been allowed to bring home from Iraq. They recruit a team of wronged people to turn the tables on societies evil doers, ably assisted by police insider Bob Hoskins. With a plot like this how could it fail? Well it does, and badly. After the first thirty minutes I thought this was going to be a perfect revenge film but nothing happens. The characters spend more time talking about what they are going to do rather than actually doing it.

What could have been an interesting and poignant comment on yob culture in Britain suddenly becomes yet another cockney Gangster film. It also slips into Sun reader territory a number of times, I cringed when Bob Hoskins asks Sean Bean to make sure he”kills the nonces“. Another major weakness is Danny Dyer. I had never seen him in a film before and I am not sure whether I would like to see him in another. How does this guy consistently get work? His blank expression becomes tiresome after one minute. The ending is abrupt and improbable, almost as if Love did not know how to end it.

This really could have been, in my opinion, something special. It promises so much yet fails to deliver and, with the exception of Dyer, wastes a very strong cast. After all, who would not want to see an angry Sean Bean going round punishing yobs and general evil doers. Perhaps I expected something far simpler. Shane Meadows has nothing to worry about, Nick Love does not even come close. As for the revenge/vigilante sub-genre, let’s hope that Death Sentence (2007) lives up to my expectations.

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