A promising British thriller about tough urban life from writer-director Dan Turner
Tunnel vision: Ashley Thomas plays a boxer who is dragged into gang culture
27 July 2012
Writer-director Dan Turner has partly based his promising British thriller about tough urban life on his own experience. That promise may be weakened by an over-reliance on melodrama but better may follow.
Clayton (Ashley Thomas) is a young man with a fearful childhood. His father (David Harewood) is a brutal gangster who robs a Pakistani store owner, stabbing him to death in the process, and then demands his young son watch as the man dies.
The boy is traumatised and carries the incident with him past adolescence. He becomes a boxer, trained by a seen-it-all old slugger (Peter Mullan), who wonders why his charge holds back in the ring. Clayton, of course, is fearful of becoming like his now imprisoned dad.
Things don’t get any better for Clayton. He can’t shake off his early troubles and slowly but surely gang life overwhelms him. Will he ever escape an environment that can only lead to violence?
That’s the story, and it is told with some flair, even if the melodrama doesn’t really allow for smaller, quieter moments that might have underlined the parable better. We need more from Harewood, an excellent actor, than this grinning psychopath. And it would have been a stronger tale if the powerful Mullan, as a kind of surrogate father, had been given more to do.
As it is, The Man Inside is well made but pushes us towards a kind of hyper-realism that pays decreasing dividends.