Jack Falls opens in Amsterdam with the attempted assassination of a man by a sniper’s rifle. This unlucky guy is the titular Jack Adleth (Simon Phillips), who, despite being technically dead for a quite a few minutes, survives; although he now suffers from inconvenient hallucinations about his dead friend Sid and love of his life Erin. The former police officer returns to London and, predictably enough, spends the rest of the film seeking revenge against criminals on both side of the law, both for his own brush with death and for the murders of Sid and Erin.
Shot in polished, high-contrast black and white with pops of random colour, Jack Falls is the last in a trilogy of films also available as comic books. Its monochromatic style references Sin City while its plot and East End setting has more than a touch of Guy Ritchie’s influence, even recruiting Dexter Fletcher and Jason Flemyng: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels alumni. It dutifully ticks off a rota of character stereotypes: the bad-tempered gangster, his trashy blonde moll, the straight cop, the bent cop, the ex-cop gone rogue and plenty of brainless henchmen to be killed off, plus a villain only known by moniker ‘The Boss’.
It is a shame that this fairly promising and stylish noir thriller never lives up to the films it emulates. Some of the characters are less than convincing and there are no big set pieces or pay-offs that really thrill. As for fight scenes, the aforementioned brainless muscle might as well be zombies; at one point an unarmed Jack happens upon three gun-wielding henchmen and manages to punch ’em all up without a shot being fired (and it ain’t cos he’s faster than the speed of light). Also, Jack doesn’t make an entirely credible undercover cop; Jason Bourne would kick him around the room for not spotting the unsubtle surveillance outside an friend’s flat.
It’s just all been done too many times to feel fresh and this is not an exciting example of the genre. If you’re a big gangster noir fan – sure, give it go; visually, it’s great. But flat fight scenes and an unsatisfying storyline mean that everyone else should just dig out a Guy Ritchie or Layer Cake.