I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Blitz

tn_blitzBLITZ went straight to video here in the States, so I kinda expected a lesser Jason Statham action effort like CHAOS. Turns out it’s not an action movie really, it’s a gritty police drama adapted from a book by Ken Bruen. I’m not familiar with Bruen’s works. Turns out I have a copy of this book Bust that he co-wrote and Hardcase Crime put it out, but I haven’t read it yet. But I got a buddy that swears by Bruen. I guess Statham’s character Brant and some of the others are in 7 different books by him. This is book 4.

Brant is one of these Dirty Harry cops that’s really a good guy but he gets in alot of trouble for the ol’ brutality. In the opening scene some kids try to break into his car, so he beats them with a hockey stick. Doesn’t go over well with the press or the bosses, though. Meanwhile a serial killer (Aidan Gillen from 12 ROUNDS and some TV show) is assassinating cops. He’s an attention seeking, “Riddle me this” type like the Zodiac or John Malkovich in IN THE LINE OF FIRE. He commits these shocking crimes in broad daylight, thinks he’s real fuckin cool in his track jacket and sunglasses, starts calling some reporter saying to call him “Blitz,” as in blitzkrieg.

So Brant gets put on the case. ‘Cause if he’s gonna cross a line it might as well be on this motherfucker.

blitzBut it’s not a Statham vehicle. It’s kind of an ensemble, with a couple of subplots. There’s Roberts (Mark Rylance), who’s taking a leave ’cause his wife just died. There’s the ex-junkie gal Falls (Zawe Ashton) that’s trying to help a neighborhood kid who might’ve beat somebody to death. The best and most prominent storyline is about the relationship between Brant and Porter Nash (Paddy Considine), an outsider to the department put in charge of the investigation.

The boys aren’t happy about Nash being in charge, and they don’t exactly roll out the red carpet, by which I mean they draw grafitti of him sucking dicks. Male dicks. At first I thought he was supposed to be an uptight bureaucrat and that’s why they hate him, but it turns out he’s openly gay, and gets openly harassed about it. Brant is supposed to be a homophobe, but also he knows his cop shit. So although he doesn’t stick up for Nash at all he does come to him privately, tells him he respects him and has a good talk with him about his darkest secrets and what makes him tick. But falls asleep during the talk.

Brant and Nash’s partnership is alot like Clint and Tyne Daley in THE ENFORCER – Brant says some horrible shit, but shows respect through his actions. If he becomes more enlightened he won’t admit it. Nash doesn’t seem desperate for his approval, but obviously appreciates that he gets it. I really like Considine in this movie. He does play some kind of “gayness,” holding himself differently from the other cops, but it’s neither a lispy stereotype or the “you’d never guess he was gay” opposite route.

Gillen is also great as Blitz. He’s a good Gemini type character, not all the way into comic book super villainy, but believable in his arrogant assertion that he’s more dangerous than other criminals. And completely fucked in the head. After one murder he sits on the couch watching a game show, guessing the answers while the corpse is still bleeding next to him on the floor.

Ultimately there’s not anything very original about BLITZ, and it’s the type of cop story they used to call “fascist”-  it manufactures a situation where the best thing for cops to do is to murder somebody and lie about what happened. On the other hand the whole situation was caused by Brant beating on a guy a long time ago, so maybe it’s saying something about the endless cycle of violence and what not.

I heard how things ended in the book and it sounds better than what they did here. But the execution makes it good, the feel of it. It’s the characters, the setting, the procedure, the little details, the gallows humor. It’s a real scummy view of London, full of junkie snitches, crooked cops and kids who beat immigrants to death for fun. It feels more realistic than most cop movies, or more novelistic. Or more like Homicide: Life On the Street. But British.

Looking over some of the other reviews it seems like alot of people thought it was supposed to be THE TRANSPORTER and that it was a mistake to put, like, other characters and events in the movie that weren’t about Statham. It definitely feels like one of those things where alot of stuff from the book is missing (especially in the Falls storyline) but I think Statham is a good tough guy actor who’s capable of doing his thing in a more complex tapestry of a movie where there’s detective work and no vehicles going off jumps. He’s allowed to do other types of movies occasionally, in my opinion.

The director is named Elliott Lester, the writer is Nathan Parker, who wrote MOON. The music is some kind of electro business that I think might be “dubstep” now that I know dubstep doesn’t sound like dub. At first I was a little thrown off by the music, I always figure a crime movie works better with music that could come from the ’70s or earlier. But that’s just my personal prejudice, and their lasery computery sounds eventually won me over.

I would like to see more of these, but I don’t think that’s the plan seeing as how they sort of, uh, get rid of one of the main characters from the series. Still, much better than CHAOS.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 6:13 pm and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

33 Responses to “Blitz”

  1. ShowS. Aiden Gillen was on some TV SHOWS. Plural.

    :)

  2. This got a proper cinema release in The Netherlands, which I thought it deserved. I liked it a lot although I wish more screentime had been spent on the Statham/Considine relationship and way, way less on the ex-junkie cop storyline (did we really need to see her go on a date with Luke Evans?). This could’ve been a tighter film and much better for it. I’m up for a sequel though!

  3. I really liked this one. Brant is one of the more (relatively) complex characters Statham’s played and can certainly handle something which is a bit more than one-note. Aiden Gillan is a lot better here than he was in 12 Rounds. Personally I don’t think Brant is responsible for “Blitz” going off the deep end – he’d just beaten some guy half to death when Brant intervened in the billiard hall, and his whole MO was down to the fact he’d been involved in so many altercations previously.

  4. Is there a fight on a CGI airplane? If not, I’m skipping it.

  5. I don’t know man, putting Dubstep in a movie feels just wrong. It’s pretty much the equivalent to a Vanilla Ice cameo, back in the early 90’s.

  6. Have no idea whether it’s called Dubstep or what that means, but I enjoyed the music in this, especially during the opening credits. Reminded me of the opening credits of Fight Club.

  7. This is what dubstep sounds like:

    http://youtu.be/SFu2DfPDGeU

    It’s a mix that contains something like 8 different tracks and you can skip to any random point in it and it will always sound exactly the same. This is not just a problem of that mix, but also of the genre as a whole. For any reason the kids love it. Okay, I know two or three good dubstep tracks too (including a seriously well done Remix of The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby), but I think it gets old way too quick.

  8. I really like the dubstep group that does two of the tracks in the film, The Qemists, they did the opening track and the one of the track used in chased (Stompbox which I think is their most popular track). Usually there music is used video games like Blur. It’s pretty much good car chase/driving music. I’m like more the music of Pendulum, which isn’t straight up dubstep, and got some variations and because of that are hated by dubstep fan. There is a very big trend of making dubstep remix of popular song. It’s a lot of that on youtube. Mt Eden is famous for doing that. Some great stuff, but most sound very similar.

  9. Wait, Pendulum are Dubstep? I thought they were doing Drum ‘n’ Bass?

  10. BLITZ is actually getting in Theatrical Release here in Asia. It’ll be out in late Sept i think, if all goes well.

  11. Sounds a lot like the role Paddy played in the second Red Riding film aka the only Red Riding movie I actually really liked. He wasn’t gay in that one, but he was an outsider cop who everyone openly resented and undermined. I’ve now seen a bunch of Paddy’s movies and I got to say, the man is impressive. He’s always changing up and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him just show up to collect paychecks, not even in something where he’s largely a background player, like Hot Fuzz. Dude’s always on his A-game.

  12. Jareth Cutestory

    August 26th, 2011 at 6:58 am

    You didn’t like the first RED RIDING movie? New Spiderman was so good in that one.

    Also, I think Burial is the most interesting thing to happen to British music since Joy Division. I don’t care what name they give his music and all the music that tries to cash in on the Hyperdub sound.

  13. Good film! Underrated. It’s quite witty too – I loved the scene when Statham orders the whiskey at the crime scene.

    Not to be pedantic, but it’s a hurley stick that Statham uses at the start, not hockey. Hurling is Ireland’s national sport, you know! (Sounds like I’m joking, but I aint)

  14. Pendulum is not really drum ‘n’ base either. I got into The Qemist because I liked Pendulum, and I heard it was similar. Then perhaps The Qemists isn’t dubstep, but a hybrid between dubstep, drum ‘n’ base and good old fashion electronica (there is a probably a sub-genre).

    The British has always weird sub-genre’s like trip-hop. The main band on this soundtrack, is The Qemists, and it’s similar to Pendulum, so I don’t think anyone of them are dubstep, but drum ‘n’ base/electronica/techno hybrids, with a little dash of dubstep. But they are not so monotone has a normal dubstep song.

  15. Jareth Cutestory

    August 26th, 2011 at 7:48 am

    “Hurling is Ireland’s national sport, you know!”

    Classic.

  16. Red Riding 1974 is beatifully shot, composed and has masterful performances from all involved…and was also a total fucking bore. It hit way to many of my pet peeves for the type of story it was telling. For example, the whole movie is built around Garfield uncovering a conspiracy…except he doesn’t uncover any conspiracy, SOMEONE ELSE does, hands Garfield the evidence that pinpoints what happened and who did it, and Garfield than spends the rest of his time sitting in a hotel room staring at maps and dreaming of swans.

    And I hated, hated, hated the ending. SPOILER

    He gives the evidence to the fucking cops? Really? After everything he saw and did he hands every scrap of evidence his buddy died for to the fucking police department because one of them was nice to him one time? Really?

    And then there’s the whole predictability problem. The second Garfield see the John Dawson real estate sign, I knew exactly who was responsible and how the movie would play out and nothing that happened next surprised me at all, and it wasn’t engaging on a characte or visual level to make me not mind that it was the 27,000 evil real estate scheme that Ellroy and his clones have pounded into the ground ever since LA Confidential hit.

    I still liked the movie well enough, and would absolutely recommend the whole trilogy to any film fans, but I thought all three had weird structural and narrative problems that kept me from whole-heartedly enjoying them.

    Maybe I’m just spoiled from that one Aiden Gillen show.

  17. Read the books. The books are better. You gotta read them all in a row, though, or you’re gonna forget shit. They’re like the LORD OF THE RINGS of really gross and depressing crime fiction.

  18. Here’s a short film from 1936 to explain what hurling is about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzp5ooc727c

  19. Jareth Cutestory

    August 26th, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Wow, WAYNE’S WORLD really got the little details of hurling all wrong, didn’t it.

  20. “(Aidan Gillen from 12 ROUNDS and some TV show)”
    I personally would have went with “from SHANGHAI NOON and QUEER AS FOLK”.

  21. ^SHANGHAI KNIGHTS

  22. I love Homicide: Life on the Streets. awesome show.

    I really have nothing else to add at this time.

  23. I watched Revolver for the first time tonight and was surprised to find that I didn’t hate it. I’ve heard so much about it being horrible that I expected something really embarrassing. I guess that happens. Gotta take my hat off to Guy Ritchie for at least trying something different. He took some risks (well, not really in terms of technique, but in terms of thematic approach) and some of it actually works. Of course a lot of it doesn’t work, but I’d rather watch him do shit like Revolver than another fucking Sherlock Holmes movie.

    Oh yeah, if you really want to see Statham in something a little different, check out London. Strange little movie. Wouldn’t say it’s good, but at least Jessica Biel is there for some eye candy.

  24. For an actor that I really like, its surprising that Statham hasn’t been in a lot of movies that I would consider “good”. He’s made alot of entertaining bad movies though. I’d have to say that his best non Guy Ritchie movie is The Bank Job.

  25. “hey guys, let’s all go get blitzed and watch Blitz!”

  26. One time, I was walking down the street in my college town. It was along a row of eateries where this one joint, Sam’s-to-Go, (Sam’s-to-Bro for those of us in the know), always played loud dubstep and bad mainstream hip-hop while the frat boys and sorostitutes drank cheap pitchers of beer and ate overpriced sandwiches, good onion rings though.

    Anyway, I was walking along and I heard this dubstep track I had never heard before. I began bobbing my head and trying to get in to it. It wasn’t bad for a dubstep song, I thought.

    After about 40 seconds I realized that it wasn’t a dubstep song at all. It was a burglar alarm.

    True story.

  27. Was Vern making another Felicity joke…or an Entourage joke?

  28. I would also be really interested to know if Setup, the DTV with Bruce and 50 Cent, is worth watching. How great would it be if we could get awesome fresh Bruce movies straight in our home!

  29. i don’t think i can give the music a pass, and it certainly didn’t win me over. don’t get me wrong, i like the music and songs by themselves but it seems to go against the tone of the movie. it would have worked in some matrix-y post action movies or the transporters or cranks. but in most of the scenes i wish they didn’t use any music at all.

  30. Brendan:
    I so agree with you on Red Riding. Beautiful, with good performances, but just…eh. I think I was really dissapointed because I had read it was the TRUE story of the Yorkshire Ripper, and what I got def wasn’t that.

    It also annoyed me that the “hero” fucked the MOTHER OF A DEAD CHILD as a plot point. I couldn’t help but think of The Last King of Scotland, where Professor X fucks the king’s wife, who is then (SPOILER, I guess) chopped up. And since she was really murdered that way in real life, and the fact that they gave the reason for this is that some white dude fucked her was really infuriating to me. Not only did she die horribly, now people are going to believe it was because she was loose. Good job, Hollywood. (I don’t know if I was the only one who was bothered by this? Maybe I’m overreacting, but it just seems like they shit on a real person’s memory who was killed for no reason in real life.)

    Anyway, I’ll have to check out the books, at least.

  31. It’s worth checking out the deleted scenes for this on the DVD if you have it. There’s a full 22 minutes, including an alternative ending and at least two entirely new sub-plots worth of extra material – most if it is character-related stuff, so it almost seems like an entirely different movie, more of a low-key kitchen sink drama. At first I thought it was some kind of in-joke. We learn a lot more about Falls – for example, it turns out that she was out on the town with her good buddy Paddy Considine the night of the first cop murder, and that’s why she turns up in the short dress at the crime scene. There’s also a younger cop character who ends up going into Aiden Gillen’s cell undercover to try and extract a confession – Aiden Gillen is fucking great in this scene, so it’s a shame that they had to cut this out when the young cop’s sub-plot got deleted.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this – the main cast were terrific, and there was some great dialogue and unexpected scenes, and it was good to see Statham get to do some character work. I think this might be one of his best roles – I really dug his performance as the Dirty Harry type, a real nasty piece of work, and especially loved the way he didn’t appear to learn anything whatsoever – his unrepentant speech to Gillen in the cop shop was a blast (although some of the deleted stuff suggests that he was possibly originally supposed to be a bit more conflicted about his role in influencing Gillen’s rampage).

    My one main issue is the music, as a few people have mentioned – I really wish they’d gone with something less fashionable, more classic and much less brash. Something a bit subtler, slower and creepier would have really suited the unrelenting grimness of this. I was trying to imagine it with some Maniac-type synth drones – which they hint at a few times – and I think that might have worked well. But ah well, you can’t have everything, and the chase scene was really fucking cool once I settled in with the dubstep soundtrack. Good shit.

  32. Thanks for the tip. It looks like Statham’s next movie – HUMMINGBIRD – is in the same vein as this.

  33. The dubstepping soundtrack wasn’t what annoyed me, it was how they used it. In the opening scene when Statham attacks the hoods, each time he struck one with the Hurley stick the soundtrack blasted a loud dramatic whacking noise, to emphasize the impact I’m guessing. I thought it was overkill. Nowhere near as much as the Crank films though.

    Stathams tough guy style doesn’t need all that baggage. He has the presence to carry a film that’s a bit more spare in effects and sound. Parker comes to mind. So when he hits a guy, I only need to hear bones breaking. I don’t need the soundtrack to tell me he’s inflicting pain.

    I think Statham keeps getting better in his roles. I don’t mean to upset you Vern, but my girlfriend(who’s not much into movies, sadly) and I watched Blitz tonight, and after the first few scenes with Statham she asked ‘is that Bruce Willis?’ Heresy! But I can see why she said it. The bald, big noggin, smart mouth and regular guy physique(for an action actor). I wonder if someday he’ll make it into your Icon canon?

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