Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DVD Review: Jack Falls

Jack Falls is the third in a trilogy of films from newcomer Paul Tanter. All three follow undercover cop Jack (Simon Phillips) as he descends into a criminal underworld populated by familiar faces of the British film scene. In this third instalment we see an assassination attempt on Jack go wrong, before he travels home to take revenge on those who conspired to have him killed.

The first major issue I encountered when watching Jack Falls was that I am totally unfamiliar with the previous films, save for grimacing at the DVD cover for Jack Said when I saw it in HMV (it stars Danny Dyer). Consequently, when thrust into an already developed world full of characters, it was a little difficult to understand what was going on, and more importantly, why.

Despite this, Jack Falls develops in to something fairly compelling as it progresses with its own story. Presented in a high-contrast black and white, with little splashes of colour dotted throughout, it has a comic-book, film noir quality to it. While not as heavy handed as Sin City, which some have compared it to, the imagery is rich and sharp but more grounded in reality. Whether the contrast of red blood or a blue shirt against the black and white have any real semiotic meaning is debatable, but the film looks more stylish than your average gang-land Brit-flick. 

Actors like Tamer Hassan and the always enjoyable Alan Ford (Snatch's Brick Top, playing essentially the same character here) do their thing without exerting too much effort, along with a decent supporting cast of cock-er-ney geezers and feisty women. Phillips, as the titular Jack, is an effectively brooding hero. The only real anomaly here is Dominic Burns' highly unconvincing hit-man.

As long as British film has an obsession with gangsters we'll see plenty of stories like this, but with its stylistic flourishes and decent plotting, Jack Falls stands out in sea of mediocrity as something worth watching. It would be sensible however to catch up on the first two parts first, unlike me. Professional, eh?

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