City slicker meets council estate crackhead in this would-be insightful meeting of opposites adapted by Dominic Leyton from his play ‘Collision’. Steven Mackintosh’s smart-suited Tom is obviously several zones out of his depth when he pitches up in tower-block territory to conduct a deal with Ashley Walters’ motormouth addict D, and trust’s in short supply as they negotiate the precise order of payment and delivery. Meanwhile, in a nearby flat, tattooed Loyalist headcase Andy Serkis is simmering his way towards full-scale eruption on the realisation that someone has snaffled away his snub-nosed pistol. Time to dust off the machete, then?
Thirty years ago, this would have been a BBC ‘Play for Today’, and its reliance on constant verbals and an abandoned warehouse location still suggest it might have better suited a smaller frame. As it is, although the writing’s exploration of common humanity across the social divide offers occasional worthwhile moral provocation, its evident theatricality also works against any sense of urban authenticity. Mismatches abound unfortunately, since the high-res digital camerawork merely shows up the artificiality of the blood, while first-time director Gary Love’s self-consciously arty framing seems at odds with everything else. Better surely to have kept it simple and let the actors do the heavy lifting: Walters is on good form as the wannabe-player with his self-delusion showing, and Mackintosh squirms admirably, but why nobody insisted Serkis tone down his caricature hard-nut with anger-management issues is hard to fathom. Good intentions abound but, compared to the likes of Loach, Ramsay or Oldman, this debut for ambitious production outfit Slingshot is junior-league fare. What a shame.