Aaaaaaaaaah, the British crime movie. We Brits have always been quite good at this sort of thing, be it a classic caper (The Italian Job), a classic slice of grit (Get Carter), an 80s gangster flick (The Long Good Friday) or the Guy Ritchie films that mix up aspects of the whole back catalogue. But for every winner there are usually a couple of dire wannabes sliding onto the rental shelves. Which category does The Disappearance Of Alice Creed fall into? Thankfully, it’s the former.
Written and directed by J Blakeson, this movie is an efficient and effective triple-header all about a kidnapping/ransom plot that doesn’t quite go as expected (if criminals actually watched movies they’d know that these things never usually do work out for the best).
This is a lean exercise in drawing audiences in and developing and maintaining tension. From the very beginning we watch with interest as two men (the superb Eddie Marsan and the equally superb Martin Compston) prepare a flat for the arrival of one reluctant inhabitant. Then they kidnap their target (Gemma Arterton) and things start to pick up pace.
It’s to Blakeson’s credit, and the performances of the actors, that you actually get just enough on each character to start caring about their fate, even if they’re on the wrong side of any moral compass. His direction isn’t fancy but it does what it needs to do, focuses on the performances and points the camera to any little details (like a stray bullet) that will add to the tension. I may even forgive him for writing the terrible The Descent: Part Two.
Gemma Arterton is someone who’s career has puzzled me for a while but she does okay here, even if I still remain unconvinced. The really good stuff, however, is watching the many scenes between Marsan and Compston and the two men carry the movie easily with their performances, Compston appearing to be the dominated, weaker one of the pair while Marsan stays professional and unwavering throughout, dealing with the whole situation as a job that must be done and you totally believe in his conviction.
Since viewing the movie I have read many other reviews raving about it and, while I can’t agree with everyone who thinks it is THAT good, I must say that it’s one of the better British crime movies in recent years. It doesn’t need any laughs thrown in there to keep you hooked, it twists things cleverly while maintaining the genre standards and it all leads up to a finale that will keep you wondering how everything will pan out until the last few minutes.
DIRECTOR: J BLAKESON
CAST: EDDIE MARSAN, MARTIN COMPSTON, GEMMA ARTERTON
RUNTIME: 96 MINS APPROX