Blue Iguana

**1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Blue Iguana
"Rockwell could have played this role in his sleep but makes as effort nonetheless, and Schwartz holds his own."

A couple of bankable US stars, a bevy of British character actors, a bit of double crossing and a mysterious jewel. The great British crime caper is alive and kicking in the 21st Century. If it hasn't found much new to say in 40 years, that's not a great loss - the strength of such films was always in their characters and their sense of fun. Whilst Blue Iguana does't excel at either, it acquits itself well enough for an enjoyable evening's entertainment.

Sam Rockwell and Ben Schwartz are Eddie and Paul, small time crooks unexpectedly flown over to England to collect a mysterious package from a bunch of bad guys who may not want to let it go. It's not that England has no small time crooks of its own, but they're all already working for other people, and Phoebe Fox's nervous lawyer, Katherine, is a newcomer to the business, finding connections where she can. Or so she says. Can they trust her? Probably not, but Eddie is falling for her all the same, and as one double cross follows another, allegiances are broken and forged again as everybody tries to get their hands on the loot.

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The highlight of the film is Amanda Donohoe as a loudmouthed, lusty landlady, stealing every scene she's in and clearly having tremendous fun doing it. It's a pity that her character's fate is poorly judged in a scene whose misogynistic undercurrents are redeemed only by hard work from co-star Peter Ferdinando, but which still jars. Elsewhere the tone is lightly comedic with little real sense of peril but a fair amount of energy. There's some running around in the Natural History Museum to reassure US viewers that this London is the real deal. There's a subplot focused on Paul's desire to become a film producer. And there's a lot of banter between the leads, who have the all-important chemistry that lets us believe they'll stick together even in a context where there's clearly no honour among thieves.

There are weaknesses in the writing, with too many scenes falling just short of convincing, but it's easy to keep rooting for the heroes and the story never gets too slow. Rockwell could have played this role in his sleep but makes as effort nonetheless, and Schwartz holds his own. The culture clash comedy is well balanced so there's no need to pick a side. The fights are fun and successfully tread that difficult line between convincing us that the bad guys are real villains and ensuring that no-one whom younger viewers might get attached to is seriously hurt.

Clearly the product of a restricted budget, Blue Iguana is less ambitious than its characters but more competent, lightweight but likeable.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2018
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Blue Iguana packshot
Two small time US criminals get out of their depth after being persuaded to travel to England to steal a mysterious package.

Director: Hadi Hajaig

Writer: Hadi Hajaig

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Ben Schwartz, Phoebe Fox, Simon Callow, Amanda Donohoe, Frances Barber, Peter Ferdinando

Year: 2018

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: UK

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