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British Film Review: The Liability by Garrett Hunter
When 19 year old Adam (Jack O’Connell; This Is England, Eden Lake, Harry Brown) smashes the Mercedes belonging to his hostile stepfather, he knows there will be a price to pay. His stepfather Peter, played with utterly convincing menace by Peter Mullen (War Horse, Tyrannosaur, My Name is Joe), is clearly not the nine-to-five type and earns his money, we suspect, by non-too legitimate means.
And so Adam finds himself acting as chauffeur to Roy (Tim Roth; Broken, Arbitrage, Reservoir Dogs), the world’s most apathetic hit man. As entertaining as the opening scenes are, it is here, in the space between Adam and Roy where this film becomes truly interesting and enjoyable. Roy’s lethargy –he is tired of this life choice, perhaps of his life– provides the perfect counter to Adam’s nervous energy and the two leads play their roles with such natural ease we feel as we are in the car with them as they head off to commit their dastardly crime.
Roth of course is the master at this, there is a rumour going around that he arrived on set and announced, “I’m not acting in this, I’m just playing myself”; it is a believable tale. Roth has nurtured a seemingly effortless style of acting which is perfect for this role and he plays the role perfectly. O’Connell, already a fine actor before the camera’s rolled on The Liability, can only have benefited from the experience of working with Roth, a master class on the road to what promises to be an illustrious career.
Director Craig Viveiros (Ghosted) plays to the strengths by holding our focus on this winning partnership whilst keeping the story moving along with pace; and what a good story it is. What should have been a routine job for Roy becomes complicated when a beautiful hiker (Talulah Riley; St Trinians, Pride & Prejudice) witnesses their crime and has to makes a run for it. The chase is on, the obligatory twists and turns are negotiated, deeper motivations are revealed, and there is a satisfying resolution with everyone getting what they deserved, and probably what they wanted.
Credit must go to the writer John Wrathall for a finely crafted piece with some real pearls of dialogue, especially for Mr. Roth (although he delivers them as though they were ad-libs, perhaps they were). It is always difficult to predict how a British film will do at the box office because there are so many industry variables to consider, but here is a film that deserves to do well and will surely be watched for years to come in one form or another, highly recommended.
4½ out of 5 StarsGarrett Hunter firstname.lastname@example.org
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