When Jason Statham comes to town the expectation is he will offer up the following: a kick and a punch followed by a raspy line of dialogue. His films can be fun, are often deliriously violent and kinetic, good for a quick fix and nothing more. British thriller Blitz starts off in unfamiliar fashion (for one thing they give him a character) but it still functions as hollow entertainment, unflinchingly violent but completely disposable.
Blitz follows Statham’s Detective Sergeant Tom Brant and when we first meet him he’s your clichéd burnt-out copper (replete with a half-finished curry and alcohol on his table). When the police force is targeted by a psychopathic serial killer who calls himself The Blitz, Brant, along with Paddy Considine’s Porter Nash (who combine to form the odd buddy cop pairing), are assigned the case to capture the killer before he strikes again. So begins a cat and mouse game with the killer evading the ‘coppers’ and Statham’s face becoming stonier as the film goes on. If you punched him I’d be surprised if your hand didn’t shatter.
Despite several story-lines involving members of the police force, press and public, the film drops the pretence of being about something and turns into your standard, workmanlike thriller. Character development falls by the wayside, relying on the shock nature of its killings and the police investigation to sustain interest. At times it unwisely wedges in a storyline concerning Zawe Ashton’s Elizabeth Falls, an officer just out from rehab after a spell undercover, a section of the film that goes on longer than it probably should. Ashton’s character is a touch too eager to embrace her sordid past, making it appear a little sudden and unrealistic.
Any emotional stake in the film is reduced when we’re told (by the characters themselves, no less) their life stories up until the point we meet them. It’s a rather clunky way of disseminating exposition and while the actors are satisfactory, delivering a character’s backstory in this manner smacks of being asked to invest in characters that lack substance. This happens, that happens and you won’t particularly care but in the end you’re left entertained.
Much of the reaction to the film comes from the severity of the violence inflicted, each one uncomfortably personal. If you saw American History X and vowed never again to see a kerb-stomping scene, you should give Blitz a miss (or close your eyes). The violence can be brutal and Blitz is well deserving of its 18 certificate. Aiden Gillen’s Barry Weiss/The Blitz is a suitably nasty piece of work although he comes close to being a cartoon at times whether he’s laughing at the TV after bludgeoning one victim or asking to update his Facebook status. Gillen’s performance is convincingly psychopathic but sometimes the character’s smugness doesn’t quite land.
A lot more violent, suspenseful and urban than Statham’s previous films, Blitz is, in the end, what we come to expect from him. It won’t make you re-evaluate Statham as an actor but serves to prove that he is (probably) one of the very few eminent action-actors around. Whether you’ve enjoyed his films in the past will help in deciding whether you want to take a trip and see Blitz; it isn’t brilliant but it gets the job done.