Review by Sean Boelman
Starring Craig Fairbrass, Villain is a new crime drama with precious little to excite audiences. Starting off with a bang but failing to keep up that momentum, this isn’t a poorly-made film, although it certainly could have benefitted from having a bit more action to make the story feel more cinematic.
The movie follows a recently released ex-convict as he is drawn back into a life of crime when he discovers that his brother owes a large debt to some ruthless mobsters, and he must find a way to pay it back, legal or not. The script by Greg Hall and George Russo is very bland and generic, adding very little to a worn out revenge genre.
However, since the film is so by-the-book, the movie feels very stagnant. There is some conflict throughout, but not enough to make the film interesting. One of the problems here is that the movie fails to adequately establish stakes. Even though the characters repeatedly discuss how this is a matter of life and death, it fails to prove it in an impactful way.
The reason why it is so disappointing that the film is so unoriginal is that the opening sequence is legitimately pretty great. However, this extremely high-intensity scene sets a precedent that the rest of the movie simply can’t meet, and as a result, audiences are certainly going to be bored by what the real plot has to offer.
Furthermore, the character development in the film doesn’t have much emotional impact at all. There are some beats of the movie that are made expressly for the purpose of eliciting a response from the audience, and while one or two of them work, a majority of them feel manipulative and unnatural.
Fairbrass does a good enough job in his leading role, but he isn’t given enough material to work with to be particularly memorable. It’s a role that he seems very well-fit for, if only there had been more substance to what he had to do. The supporting cast as a whole is very monotonous and unspectacular.
The film isn’t bad on a technical level, but as expected, there’s nothing particularly phenomenal about it either. This is where the lack of exciting action in the movie really hurts it. Although it’s obvious that the film wants to be gritty and real, director Philip Barantini doesn’t bring enough style to it for it to be effective.
More often than not, Villain falls flat. Unfortunately, the cast and crew just don’t have the ability to overcome a generic script that is almost completely devoid of thrills or any other interesting flourishes.
Villain hits VOD on May 22.