The Stat. He’s a hard-drinking, hard-as-nails cop on the edge. He’s close to burnout, because he just can’t resist serving up exactly what the scum deserve. He’s like Dirty Harry, but without a clear intent. But really, he just likes beating up the criminals. Tom Brandt is a generic tough guy movie cop (or literary cop, as Blitz is taken from from one of a series of novels by Ken Bruen), which suits what this utterly generic movie.
The plot concerns a cop killer who adopts the titular name, and Brandt’s attempts to apprehend him. Blitz has some things going for it. The detective sergeant isn’t really very good as his job, and this aspect seems at least in part intentional. He has no great insights, unlike the classic detectives. Indeed, he has Blitz (Aidan Gillen, going all-out creepy psycho; Gillen has just the face for needling psychosis and he looks like the only one here having any fun with their part) in his grasp fairly early on but lets him go. The real investigatory work is done by a done by a seedy informant out to make some money (Ned Dennehy). Brandt, in keeping with the Stat’s usual persona, is given to coarse crudities of the most witless variety. We’re supposed to root for him, but the Stat is best when he’s the strong silent type. He becomes boorish when he’s mouthing off.
If Brandt’s failings at least have the benefit of the doubt as a genuine attempt to be original, Paddy Considine’s gay Acting Inspector Nash seems overly schematic. Brandt’s such a red-blooded heterosexual; give him a colleague/sidekick that can show he’s all for equality deep down (albeit with a stream of poof jokes thrown in). At least it took a sequel for Harry Callahan to soften. It’s credit to Considine that he gives Nash some substance. The remainder of the cast is subject to clichéd plotting (Zawe Ashton’s WPC recovering addict) or under-used (David Morrissey as a reporter who doesn’t have enough screen time to make a call on whether he’s actually a sleazy reporter or not).
But the plot holds the attention in a sub-Luther (which means a sub-sub-Cracker) way; it’s one of those where we follow the killer equally, but there’s no room for subtleties or insights here. Luther was never the most understated of series, but it stands positively nuanced compared to this. A big part of the problem is music video director Elliott Lester’s clueless direction. He has no real ideas of what to do, so he tries to be flashy; a surfeit of handheld camera, random cutting, completely inappropriate music drowning out scenes (most amusingly were Stat walks to his fridge while Considine eats some dinner). There’s an occasional arresting shot, but the results as a whole are tonally incoherent. This is a picture that pitches from the villain beating someone to death with a hammer and throwing up over the corpse to a “hilarious” final sequence where Brandt pays a character back by setting a couple of pit-bulls on him.
The Stat’s underdeveloped comedy skills are further evidenced by the final line, a fine example of “If you can’t think of anything better, best not to bother at all”. With a different director, a different lead, and a more low key approach, this might have been halfway effective. Unfortunately it ends up looking like the usual shitty result you get when you try to apply Hollywood style to British material.