Christian Robshaw reviews this underwhelming thriller…
Are you waiting for the first great British gangster flick of ‘16? Cool, good luck with that and let me first warn you: steer clear of this one.
Hitman Alfie, played by easily-mistaken-for-Ray-Winstone Craig Fairbrass, isn’t on his best form when we catch up with him: haunted by a case of never-identified-by-name post-traumatic stress disorder, he’s gamely trying to remain in employment with assassination firm Home Front, while simultaneously maintaining his Papa Wolf, Liam-Neeson-in-Taken attitude to his daughter and never discussing with his wife Catherine, by presumed mutual consent, how obviously his best friend Connor is a wrong’un with less-than-honourable designs on her. It’s never really clear how receptive Catherine is to those overtures, but it must be noted that she describes Connor as a good friend to the family moments after he propositions her, repeatedly, in a car park. The old get-in-the-car-and-make-a-gearstick-joke routine has never really ranked with the tried and tested classics, the Venice-in-the-moonlight or candles-and-Barry-Whites of this world; but it must be said it ranks above standing ten feet down her garden, chatting to her on your mobile while she sits by the big French windows, one glance left away from putting the lie to your “off assassinating some poor bastard by the coast” alibi. The bushes are right behind him, too – he’s so near and yet so far.
Despite some lapses in common sense, though, Connor does at least come off as a memorable and vividly depicted villain, which is more than can be said for the other assorted bastards Alfie finds himself predictably up against. Emmett J Scanlan, who already has the ignominy of counting three years on Hollyoaks as a career highlight, tries his blessed best with a script that is, in its very very strongest moments, mediocre. Olivia Grant succeeds also as Catherine, managing to find a consistent, troubled, protective character out of the many contradictions in motivation she’s working with, and Amanda Wass as sixteen-year-old daughter Maya is one of the few teens on screen, ever, who feels authentically teenaged.
But the picture is unfair on its best players, because they’re still stuck in a lazy and nonsensical tough-guy runaround that not even writer-director Jonnie Malachi can bring himself to care about. Don’t be misled by the dishonest poster, with riot gear, submachine guns, helicopters and explosions – none of which occur even briefly in the film – it’s the kind of film you wouldn’t even want to watch with a curry and a couple of beers.
Breakdown is opening in select London cinemas today (15th January) and will be released on DVD & Digital on the 18th January. Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!