NOW TV film review: I Against I
James R | On 16, Dec 2013
Director: Mark Cripps, David Ellison, James Marquand
Cast: Kenny Doughty, Ingvar Egger Sigurdsson, Mark Womack, John Castle, Sonia Balaco
Watch online: Sky Cinema / NOW / TalkTalk TV / iTunes
2 men. 12 hours. 1 must die. That’s the tagline for I Against I. It should read: 3 directors. 84 minutes. 1 must fall asleep. This low-budget film tries to keep you on the edge of your seat. Sadly, the only thing it guarantees is that you’ll drop off.
It starts with Ian (Doughty) discovering the dead body of gang leader Tommy Carmichael. But Ian’s spotted leaving the scene of the crime by Tommy’s son, Joseph (Womack). Joseph, it turns out, is not a nice man. We can tell this because he plays Russian Roulette – all the time. “You’re a gambling man, Ian! 1 in 6!” he shouts, holding a gun to his head and randomly pulling the trigger. It’s a neat trick the first time round, but after he’s played it with every person in the cast, you start wishing the gun would go off.
Ian insists to Joseph that he saw another man at Tommy’s office: Isaac (Sigurdsson). So Joseph orders him to hunt Isaac down and kill him. It’s not long until we find out that Isaac has been told to do the same thing. We even get a flashback to explain it to us – and show some more Russian Roulette, of course.
Two men whose names both begin with ‘I’ pitted against each other? It’s not a terrible idea for a thriller. It’s just not very thrilling. From its dark shots of London streets and dim scenes in alleys, this film “set in the nocturnal underworld” of the UK capital wants to be Michael Mann but it’s closer to the nocturnal underworld of Springwatch. If Bill Oddie played Russian Roulette every five minutes.
It’s a shame to see the indie film fail so comprehensively, because I Against I is clearly a movie with ambition. Directors Cripps, Ellison and Marquand successfully avoid the Guy Ritchie trappings of the genre and Mark Womack’s intensity (last on display in an excellent turn in Route Irish) almost carries the whole thing off. But when even the three screenwriters run out of ideas, inserting a seemingly irrelevant drug-dealing scene to pad out the 86 long minutes, it’s perhaps no wonder that tedium sets in.
Much like Springwatch, there’s some decent nighttime photography – and a nice line in low-level shots of people driving cars – but whenever I Against I starts to shows promise, the cars stop and people get out, only to deliver disappointingly dull dialogue. With some improved speech, I Against I could have been an entertaining 60 minute ride. As it stands, you might have more fun crawling around a multi-storey car park.
I Against I is available to watch on NOW as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. (This will renew from 29th May at £9.99 per month.)