New Town Killers
I'm not a huge Richard Jobson fan, but the draw here is the dark story, that comes at a time in Scottish business that fits the idea rather nicely, it carries the very underused talent of Scott and a chance to see what Mackenzie has to offer in the film world.
It has all the building blocks of an interesting and possibly very good thriller that happens to be in Scotland.
That's when two mysterious men appear in the man's life, offering them a way out, payment of all their debts and then some, however there's something he has to do first.
The catch is that the man has to evade the two mysterious figures from now until morning, and if he does, his troubles will be gone.
I do wish that there was much more Scottish film out there, so it's great when a Scottish film gets made and gets a lot of recognition in Britain and around the world, but as New Town Killers goes, it's a very local film despite the well known names.
The film feels like it is very much an Edinburgh film, and outside it becomes a lot less, indeed outside of Scotland the focus really comes to the plot and the characters, and that's where the film begins to falter a little.
If you're watching the film as someone who knows about Scotland and Edinburgh, you'll find yourself recognising locations, looking for places you know and feeling a little bit of a glow from the film because it is from where you live.
I think it was this aspect that lifted up the film more than the core of the story would allow.
It's a clever idea for the film, and it plays out rather well, not only with the excitement of the chase itself, but also the development of the relationship between the two characters chasing the man, something that begins to flesh out a little and provide some interesting developments in the story.
The tension builds quite well in the story, and the creation of the main protagonist plays well through the film, building to a good bad guy, and taken even further by Dougray Scott who, for the most part plays well, but more of that later.
There are some nice moments to the film, some clever aspects that do provide some interesting pay-offs in the film, however they don't deliver the punch you might expect and they definitely don't make you feel the twist in them.
New Town Killers looks good for the most part, there's some strong shots and filming style, and some good natural lighting, particularly during the night scenes.
However the availability of Edinburgh locations seems to be limited and rather than taking advantage of the wonderful locations on offer, it takes some lesser, downscale locations that might only be recognisable to those that live here.
I do think that, rather than go for these local, recognisable locations, the production could have picked some rather more interesting locations instead of ones which sparked my local interest and knowledge.
Just a point if you are a local, it's a bit distracting to see the locations leaping around and not leading into each other. It's something that is probably a lot more acceptable to people who live in cities where filming is happening all the time. Here though it's a bit of a distraction - we don't get many bigger films based entirely in the city.
Alastair Mackenzie did a great job, for me at least, from leaping up from television to a feature, at least for my experience of the actor anyway. It took a little bit of time for me to shake off the image of him playing in Monarch of the Glen, but he does do it rather well.
To be honest I thought he did that much better in his appearance in The Mentalist, but here he's doing a very good job.
Dougray Scott is completely hit and miss and is a real surprise, and for the most part I don't mean in a good way. He has some strong moments and plays his bad guy role well, except there are some seriously over the top and pantomime moments.
One I recall is the big laugh from the character that just goes on too long, feels very false and is quite cringe-worthy. Way over the top.
His character then launches into a rambling speech that really needed a rewrite, for it's not meant to be this way in the plot, and just ends up being confusing and distracting for the character and the story. We need to see him lose it and escalate things more, but this speech just doesn't do it.
There's a good performance from James Anthony Pearson, playing the man who is trying to evade his pursuers as from the woman playing his sister, played by Liz White. Neither are dwarfed by the performances of Scott or Mackenzie, and despite the fact that they aren't on screen for long they do give good performances.
I'd love to say this is a wonderful film with fantastic performances that delivers a great Scottish film, but I can't. It's a good film that features some good moments, but the plot stumbles, the twists aren't solid enough, and the lead character has some embarrassing moments both written and in performance, and it just lacks the punches that the idea and written plot suggest.
On paper it seems really strong, but it just doesn't manage to flow and deliver the potentially strong thriller that I expected.