You can’t fault the energy and enthusiasm of someone who’s so determined to get a film made that they handle every aspect of the production and distribution. But that sometimes leads to a serious lack of quality control.

Performance artist and rapper Q is credited as the producer as well as writer, director and star of this adaptation of his own book (itself a ‘cutting out the middleman’ venture). Which means that, in fairness, there’s no-one else to blame for a seriously disjointed, almost incoherent, mishmash of what seem to be at least three different stories.

The major plot strand concerns Clarkie (Q himself), recently released from prison and attempting to go straight with the help of his brother Bones (Brian Bovell). But matters aren’t helped by the fact that he’s having an affair with Bones’ classy lawyer girlfriend Melanie (Jo Martin).

When Bones is found dead, paedophile material is discovered on his computer and the police blame a vigilante serial killer. But Clarkie believes their former friend Froggy (Roger Griffiths) committed the murder in a bid to climb the London gang ladder and planted the ‘evidence’.

It’s a decent enough set-up and the opening - jump-cut credits giving way to a long shot sex scene in which Clarkie and Melanie resemble a pair of marionettes – offers promise of a dark, complex revenge thriller.

Unfortunately what we then get is a plodding, talky section in which Clarkie earnestly explains in voiceover that four years have passed, during which he’s acquired a new ‘crib’ and girlfriend (a South African cyber-hacking genius, of course) but seems to be quite close to getting a lead at last.

Engineering another confrontation with Froggy seems to take another age, during which the plot spirals out of control to take in undercover police operations, al-Qaeda, the IRA and anything else the multi-hyphenate creator seems to think up on the spur of the moment.

I’m still not quite sure what happened to all the characters, but I suspect repeated viewing wouldn’t enhance the experience. The budget limitations are painfully obvious and the dialogue wooden in the extreme. Characters appear and disappear with the barest of explanations and a promising climax is built up, then left hanging in mid-air.

The cast (mainly TV and bit-part veterans) give it their best, but sound a bit too well-spoken for hardened gangland denizens. There seems to be a vaguely finger-wagging ‘steer clear of the dark side of the street’ moral being pushed, yet Clarkie’s vigilantism seems to go largely unpunished and there’s a fair bit of sex and violence thrown in to ensure the film has its spliff and smokes it.

It is, at least, a bit more ambitious in plot terms than the run-of-the-mill ‘news from da streets’ drama and there’s enough visual flair to suggest the writer/director/etc might have some promise as a filmmaker. But he desperately needs someone to tell him when something works and when it doesn’t. And to be reminded that a tricksy editing, an ‘urban’ soundtrack and would-be tough guy dialogue are no substitute for believable characters and a story that makes a modicum of sense.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2011
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An ex-convict vows revenge on the gang who caused his brother’s death.
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Director: Q

Writer: Q

Starring: Q, Martina Laird, Jo Martin, Brian Bovell, Roger Griffiths

Year: 2011

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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