Home Video Hovel: Blitz
In the world of direct-to-DVD films, there are a few types. Obviously, there are the ones always intended for the rental market. Then there are those that tried to make it into theaters, but just couldn’t cut it. Finally there are those that made it into foreign theaters, but couldn’t quite cut it in American exhibition. Blitz falls into that final category, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a passable movie that is sort of like something you would see in a theater, but a lot more forgettable.
Jason Statham stars as Detective Sergeant Tom Brant, who we’re introduced to as he pummels a gang of would-be carjackers with a hockey stick, quipping, “if you’re picking the wrong fight…at least pick the right weapon.” It’s a solid line, but the problem is that the filmmakers know it, so they follow it with a bombastic score and a crane shot moving skyward, watching Brant walk away from the havoc he’s wreaked. It’s also the best line in the movie, and it comes in the first scene. The whole movie more or less plays this way, with Statham being the most awesome guy in the room, and the filmmakers showing no quiet confidence in this assertion.
The plot follows a serial killer who targets cops, and who has found himself at the receiving end of Brant’s brand of justice in the past. No, this isn’t one of those movies where the detective has to figure out who the killer is – this takes the Dirty Harry route (in more ways than one). We’re shown who the killer is right away, and the rest of the film follows our protagonist finding ways to punish the killer while still keeping his job. That the solution to this problem is so easily obtained only makes the one he chooses more mind-boggling.
Paddy Considine stars as Porter Nash, the new chief of Brant’s division, who Brant decides to team up with for no reason in particular. Considine generally improves every film he’s in, but the improvements here are admittedly marginal. They have a typical opposites-attract buddy cop dynamic – Brant is the typical Statham guy, while Nash is gay and a bit uptight – but so little is done with what’s obviously on the table. Brant throws a few gay slurs Nash’s way, but all Nash does in response is smile bashfully. And before long, we find out that Nash isn’t so uptight after all, having stepped over the line in pursuit of another suspect. They’ve left the give-and-take, the lively banter, and the amusing camaraderie in the great bin of unexplored ideas.
The whole film just kind of lies there, seemingly waiting along with us for something interesting or distinguishing to happen. I often make the argument that films are great not because they hit the right series of buttons as regards character motivation, compelling plot, believable performances, and all those other “objective” measures of film analysis (though the film is often lacking in those areas as well), but rather because of a distinct personality they exude. Blitz has a personality of sorts, but it’s more like that personality that one kid took on in high school that is clearly ripped from these two movies he was really keen on that semester. Blitz is derivative, certainly, and in the worst way – it steals the spirit of better films without injecting any feeling into it.
On the technical side, I found the video a little soft. IMDb has the film shot on 35mm, and the transfer does a fine enough job of replicating a film-like look, but it’s like watching a print that’s been run through the projectors for a few years, rather than a film that was really just released. Occasionally it dips into looking more like video.
The audio’s a different story. The sound effects were fine – gunshots, cars, etc. came through nice and clear – but the dialogue is near-incomprehensible. First, yes, it’s unbelievably British, so there one needs to tune one’s ear a little to keep up. I’ve seen my fair share of thick-accented Don’ You Go Rounin’ Roun to Re Ro type films, from your Red Riding trilogy to your This is England; I’ve never had a problem understanding the dialogue. Two minutes into Blitz, the subtitles were on. It’s entirely possible that this was just the most British movie ever, but to my ear, the sound track could have been recorded or transferred a lot more clearly.
Blitz is a very familiar, lazier take on a lot of films you might actually like. It is recommended only on the most hopeless of nights in the emptiest of video stores. I tend to like Jason Statham films, and even when the movie kind of sucks, he tends to be pretty amusing in them. Neither he nor Considine could save this one.