It won’t take long for most people to decide whether they can stomach the exuberance of Jude Law’s overeager turn as a hyperactive ex-con in this stylised, waywardly violent comedy about an institutionalised hard-nut hitting the streets after 12 years inside. The confrontational opening scene (a hint: Law has got his trousers down) is likely to catapult viewers to different sides of the taste divide too. He is Dom Hemingway: safecracker, absent father, loyal friend to fellow crim Dickie (Richard E Grant, camp in a world-weary way) and former accomplice of kingpin Mr Fontaine (Demian Bichir), whose bacon he saved by keeping schtum. Now Dom wants his reward, so he and Dickie head to Fontaine’s French villa for decadence and payback.
The idea of Dom keeping quiet about anything is a laugh: he’s a one-man megaphone, spouting and spitting filthy sub-Harold Pinter lingo. The fruity dialogue works for a bit as the rest of ‘Dom Hemingway’ also sits to the left of the real – sets, events and costumes are all heightened. Yet the film loses any real sense of purpose too early, and the tone seriously starts to wobble. Later attempts to mine sentiment are awkward, and there are only so many scenes anyone can take of Law (never suited to the geezer role) strutting down streets shooting his gob off. If it was all in service of a smart story, so be it. But it isn’t.