Reviewed by: Chris

I fell in love with this film within the first few moments. Gargoyle-studded opening titles. Seductive black and white photography; and a funky music montage all set the scene for a distinctively different comic-style retro movie. Welcome a band of deadbeat girlie crimefighters. (Actually just two girls and a lad – but he’s a bit of a big girl’s blouse so not much difference). They have masks! And spandex! Bye, bye, Charlie's Angels. Welcome the geeks from next door. But, tragically, I fall out of love with disappointing speed. I am heartbroken. It was a great idea. I did so want to like it. Yet it was... crap. Plain and simple: it sucks.

Photography throughout CrimeFighters is indeed beautiful. Gorgeous. Gothic. The director, Miles Watts, and director of photography, Paul Richardson, apparently wanted CrimeFighters to be a living comic book - not so much Sin City as homage to the style of Tim Burton’s Batman. Full of dark, twisted alleys filled with heroes and villains. In terms of cinematography, they have succeeded. Admirably. But this achievement sadly serves to highlight shortcomings elsewhere.

Copy picture

The story has our trio take it into their heads to become local vigilantes. To fight a crime wave, with added branding. Superhero party masks. Iconic CF logos. One of them even does kung-fu (of sorts). These girls (and guy) cannot be accused of pretentiousness. The film is shot entirely in York, and on a miniscule budget of £7000. The team deserve real credit for getting it into the Edinburgh International Film Festival. But at the same time, Britain does suffer badly from a surfeit of encouragement to the wrong sort of promise. The result is inspired mediocrity rather than inspired genius.

The acting here, even if it's nice that it was locally recruited, is of very poor quality. Ineffectual timing and rushed lines add to an overall lack of pacing. It is not lack of effort but lack of expertise that is at fault. Characters that are poorly defined in the first place are even less convincing as a result of bad delivery, and there is no help on hand from the tedious verbal detritus of the script. It is as if someone looked at a Tarantino extended chitchat scene and thought it was easy. But while trivia in the hands of a master can be fascinating, here it is laborious. Overhearing their pub conversations in real life would make you move to another table rather than eavesdrop. If you found yourself drinking with them, you would fall asleep before you could commit suicide.

Less would have been more. And more work on the screenplay, even at the risk of delaying the project, might have paid off. Additionally, far too much time is squandered before getting to the meat of the story. The eventual fights look pretend – and not in a tongue-in-cheek ‘good’ way either. Muggings are just as poorly faked and embarrassing to behold. Sin City took a different direction and had a different sort of ‘living’ to its comic-book look. But the direction was clearly defined and its execution flawless. Death Proof’s dialogues that seemed trite held hidden tonguetwisters and mindgames for dedicated fans. Watchmen and Ghost World had distinctive looks, just as much as Batman. But they were backed up with good storytelling. Low budget? How about Kick-Ass? Or inspiration from the true budget classic, Clerks. (Admittedly it cost several times more than CrimeFighters to make, but it cut its coat according to its cloth – something singularly avoided in this overambitious exercise.)

Strong will, passion, talent, even a good script, do not have to run up superhuman bank balances. CrimeFighters even fails to draw successfully on a feminist trash aesthetic, as seen in Tank Girl. One hopes that Watts & Co will learn enough from the movie to re-trench, get back in touch with their inner filmmakers, and make something that is more heartfelt and not just career-minded. These CrimeFighters are unfortunately running before they can walk. On and off screen.

Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2010
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CrimeFighters packshot
Three friends decide to become superheroes, spandex and all, in this low budget comedy.
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Director: Miles Watts

Starring: Emma Keaveney, Paul Trimmer, Debbie Hard, Harry Humberstone, Curt Milner, Georgina Hope

Year: 2010

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

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