Blitz doesn’t get its source material at all. Based on the novel by Ken Bruen, the filmmakers know the words but are completely fucking tone-deaf when it comes to the music. The characters have the right names and do the right things book-wise, but jesus christ does this not feel like the book I read. But though this is not the bugfuck Ken Bruen adaptation we’ve all been waiting for, Blitz is undeniably a damn fine film well worth your time.
I went into this fucker with my arms crossed from minute one. Jason Statham as Brant? Fuck that. Sgt Brant is an oafish douche with only the slightest of codes, a racist, sexist, homophobic, lazy, piggish, and kinda dumb thug who we like mainly for his violent outrageousness and sick sense of humor more than anything else. Statham plays the character as the same anti-authoritarian, “gets results” violent wild card we’ve seen in countless actioners over the years. Plus, he’s fucking handsome and cool, not gross and charmlessly anti-social. They sanitized the character for mainstream audiences something terrible, and it pissed me off right away.
But though they miss the point about a lot of things, ditching the crazy and mercilessly post-modern/ironic tone of the Brixton precinct books just for another example (not to mention skipping the books’ the emphasis on dark humor over thrills, chills and complex plotting – I could go on), Blitz really gripped me once I accepted it for what it was.
Barry Weiss aka “Blitz” (fucking Mayor Carcetti from The Wire, Aiden Gillen) is shooting coppers and it’s up to the unorthodox Brant and gay-cop-with-a-lot-to-prove-to-the-rest-of-the-force Porter Nash (the great Paddy Considine of Dead Man’s Shoes) to stop that fucker. Plot, consider your ass summarized.
But though such a concept could easily be handled in a stale way, the filmmakers play it pretty smart. We know who the killer is from the first murder and get to follow him along for a good chunk of the film’s running time, and thank fuck for that because Aiden Gillen has a fucking ball playing Blitz. Yeah, we all know the guy is versatile from watching him in The Wire where he went from slimy pip-squeak to someone you yourself would want to elect as mayor of your town, but this is a whole other side of him I’ve not yet seen. He’s cool, freaky, funny, stupid, pathetic, and badass, his bizarre physicality and alternately handsome and ugly face making it all play at around twelve. He’s one of the most fun villains I’ve seen in a long time, and easily (as villains often are) the most compelling aspect of the film.
But the film also gives a lot of time to the subplots of other characters we know and love from the Brixton series as well. We get to see Chief Inspector Roberts (who is utterly unrecognizable as neurotic asshole we know from the books) and WPC Falls (who is fairly true to the books) do some shit before eventually being wrapped up in the main plot, none of it feeling forced. Porter Nash gets a nice little monologue going into some of the dark shit we know he’s capable of (oh man do I love his character’s fuck-ups in the novels) at one point in the film. Brant’s CI Radnor, played by familiar face character actor Ned Dennehy, even gets some fun business trying to make a mint on his knowledge of the case. But naturally, it all comes back to Statham pursuing justice and, naturally, doing some hardcore running through the streets after his man, as a Statham is wont to do.
But this is far from an action film, thank god. Brant fucks some dudes up and Blitz kills some motherfuckers like it ain’t no thing, but other than a climactic (and very well-done) foot chase, this is not your Transporter– or Crank-type Statham actioner – just a straight-up crime film. The pace is fucking liquid lightning, the perfunctory detective shit is handled quickly and never with an emphasis on Brant being a terribly good investigator, and the whole things wraps up in a satisfying way in ninety minutes. What more do you want from a B-movie?
Well, naturally, I wanted more but was happy-as-hell with what I got. I can’t really say I would be dying for another Brixton film with the same cast and filmmakers as I still hold out hope there’s be a way to properly handle a Bruen novel. But say Vixen or Calibre was made into a conventional film like this adaptation of Blitz? As long as said adaptation was this competently mainstreamed I would begrudgingly eat it right the fuck up.