You can’t deny the strength of Blitz’s casting. So Jason Statham isn’t going to be heralded as a great actor, but as far as British actions heroes with box office potential go, he’s leading the pack. In support we have Paddy Considine, David Morrissey and Aiden Gillen – three men who are unlikely to deliver a poor performance. Such promise soon proves to be a misnomer.
The storyline echoes what might’ve made for a bog-standard episode of Cracker circa 1994, with Robbie Coltrane’s cerebral if corpulent character replaced by the moronic menace of Statham’s detective Brant. The Blitz (Gillen) has a nasty habit of rubbing out local police officers, leaving Brant unsurprisingly puzzled and in need of help from the unorthodox yet effective new recruit Nash (Considine). Almost from the outset, Blitz is revealed to be the killer, leaving the audience to count down the minutes (and hold onto their patience) as the odd couple put the pieces together.
A homophobic bully, Brant’s unlikeability isn’t the character’s main downfall, indeed detestable figures in fiction are often the most engaging. He’s just so uninspiring. He’s a bad boy who doesn’t conform to the rules, which would be fine if he possessed the merest touch of wit or charisma. Stratham doesn’t have the panache to give Brant a further dimension of depth, but it’s hardly his fault – almost every actor would struggle with this horror show of contrived one-liners and stilted dialogue.
Actors often like to perform against stereotype, but that doesn’t always mean that they need to be indulged. Paddy Considine has excelled in numerous roles, but is particularly intense when given a character of uncertain mental stability. Aiden Gillen can handle weighty characters (see The Wire) and was acclaimed for his leading role in Queer As Folk. Blitz casts both against type with predictably mediocre returns. Despite being an openly gay officer with a homophobic colleague, Nash’s lack of development makes for one of the blandest characters that Considine has ever played. Gillen’s theatricality gives The Blitz a manic edge, but doesn’t allow him to become an uncontrollable, lunatic force. Morrissey, meanwhile, can’t rise above the thinly drawn role allocated to him, an opportunist local journalist somehow almost as dim-witted as Brant.
The film’s depiction of violence is more successful as each brutally brain-bashing encounter keeps the adrenaline flowing. Even the chase scenes, hindered as they are by their inevitable conclusion, contribute a certain level of excitement through slick pacing even if they’re soundtracked by, you guessed it, thumping drum ‘n’ bass – surely the soundtrack’s equivalent to a dead phone line in a teen horror.
While are there some impressively framed shots – especially with a seemingly choreographed aerial shot of black umbrellas shooting up during one of The Blitz’s victim’s funeral – it’s impossible to belief that the film’s current IMDb score of 8.7 will maintain much beyond its initial release.