by Rachel Willis
With a tense opening scene, Villain starts off strong. Unfortunately, it’s downhill from there.
When Eddie Frank (Craig Fairbrass) is released from prison after a long stay, he is determined to live life on the straight and narrow. It’s too bad “life won’t let” him. When Eddie discovers his brother, Sean, has run afoul of some of London’s most dangerous men, the brothers are left with few options.
There isn’t anything new in Villain, and “generic” is the word it brings to mind often. These are characters that you’ve seen before in situations you’ve seen before in a movie you’ve seen before. Writers Greg Hall and George Russo (who also portrays Sean) expect your preconceived notions about films like this to carry you through the movie. It doesn’t work.
That’s not to say there aren’t things to like about director Philip Barantini first feature length film. Barantini certainly knows how to create tension, and there are a few scenes that are difficult to watch.
The relationship between Eddie and Sean is winning because the chemistry between Fairbrass and Russo is evident. They play off each other like real brothers. Their bond, their fights, and their love for each other rings true.
Other characters don’t fare as well. When Franks tries to reunite with his daughter, Chloe (Izuka Hoyle), there are many head-scratching moments over her reactions. Her initial resentment of him too quickly gives way to feelings he hasn’t earned. Sean’s girlfriend, Rickie, could just as easily be a table from which he snorts coke. That’s not to say the actors aren’t doing their best, they’re just not blessed with particularly good material.
The tone of the film is all over the place, creating an overall messy feel. The family drama between the Franks and Chloe borders on the melodramatic, and the montage of the brothers remodeling their pub is odd and out-of-place. There’s a lot going on in the film, but there isn’t enough time devoted to each piece of the puzzle.
If you dig British thug dramas, there’s enough that works to make this enjoyable. But if you’re looking for a fresh take on the genre, you won’t find it here.