Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Killer cops wear...cardigans?
I went into this one fairly blind.  Yes, it's a Jason Statham movie, so I know he will scowl his way through a few action scenes, but Blitz never hit theaters in the US, so I was not privy to the basic plot.  According to the DVD cover shown on the page, "The Stath has never been better."  Um..."The Stath"?  Please please please let's all agree that this is what Statham should be called from this point forward.  Is it a good or clever nickname?  Of course not, but what are we comparing it to?  The Italian StallionThe Muscles From Brussels?  At least this nickname is based, you know, on his name.  Plus, it's awesomely bad.  Anyway, the more traditional movie poster/US DVD cover for Blitz pushes this slogan: "It's cop killer versus killer cop."  That sounds pretty self-explanatory, doesn't it?
...and then you realize that THIS is the villain, and you sigh

Blitz, based on Irish crime author Ken Bruen's book of the same name, opens with Detective Sergeant Tom Brant (Jason Statham) showing just what a bad-ass he is.  Three random dudes are breaking into cars as Brant was walking home with his hurley stick, presumably because he had been hurling (as in the sport) earlier.  Or possibly playing midget hockey.  What's an off-duty officer of the law to do in this circumstance?  If you answered "beat the living hell out of the nogoodnicks," then you would wind up with disciplinary action looking like a bad-ass, like Brant.  This was nothing, though; his tacitly approved violent attacks on hoodlums are the stuff of legend in London.
The Stath: too tough for uniforms, umbrellas, and rain
The bulk of the story follows the investigation of a murderer (Aidan Gillen) who is targeting police officers and is boasting of his exploits to the newspapers.  Brant finds himself paired with Sgt. Porter Nash (Paddy Considine), who is a by-the-books, intellectual type of cop.  Boy, what an odd couple!  They butt heads a little bit, but the reality of their friends and colleagues getting murdered forces them to move on with the investigation despite their differences.
They don't even have hair in common!  What a comic mismatch!

As the plot synopsis might suggest, Blitz isn't anything special in the plot department.  Since the writer and the cast are from the UK, you'll hear "piss" and "mickey" more than usual, but the dialogue isn't going to wow you, either.  This is a movie for people who want to see Jason Statham kick some ass in a plausible story (in other words, it's not Crank 3).  It covers most of the bases you might expect from a movie about a tough cop, and it covers them adequately.  Police giving each other grief?  Yes.  A tough guy that isn't up to date on those new-fangled contraptions, computers?  Cliche, but present.  Cops overcoming their differences to take on a common threat?  Obviously.  Police willing to ignore red tape/blatantly break the law to better suit justice?  Definitely.  And don't forget that oh-so-Statham constant, running without a shirt.
Shockingly, Statham stays pretty clothed

The cast of Blitz is mostly adequate.  The Stath does his thing.  He's tough, he's cool, and he's likable.  What do you expect?  This entire film is a showcase for him being cooler and tougher than everybody else in the movie!  Paddy Considine is pleasant enough and is a bit more believable as a smart cop than Statham.  Still, he's capable of a hell of a lot more than this.  Their chemistry is fine, but nothing memorable.  I found Aidan Gillen to be somewhat annoying as the villain, and his character's shtick has been done many times before by better actors.  Zawe Ashton provides an unnecessary subplot as a former undercover cop who picked up a naughty drug habit. 
...and limited acting range

The uninspired acting would have been fine if this film was wound a little tighter by the director, Elliott Lester.  At its core, Blitz is about a bad guy killing cops.  Unfortunately, we are given a couple of detours within the story that don't pay off according to the amount of time invested in them.  Personally, I don't give a rat's ass about supporting characters who are new to the department or stealing drugs from criminals or are grieving, unless it directly impacts the main story.  Lester spends way too much time on these supplementary bits, and only the grief bit adds anything to The Stath's character.  The camerawork and editing are all pretty standard issue, so if Lester was going to differentiate Blitz from any other movie about a cop on the edge, you would think he would do it in the subplots.  He does not.  At the very least, Lester could have trimmed the movie down and made it feel as fast-paced as the title implies.  Again, unfortunately, he does not.

My biggest problem with Blitz is how groundbreaking it isn't.  The characters are surprisingly shallow, considering that the source of the story was a novel.  The Stath does his best, but I've seen tough guy cop characters before; I immediately knew that the film was going to point out a) he doesn't get touchy-feely b) he doesn't like computers c) he will respect colleagues for their work and not their lives.  Sgt. Nash is homosexual, and he takes a lot of crap for it, despite being a superior officer; that might have flown in the 90s, but it just seemed outdated and unlikely today.  That's not because people are more enlightened now (sadly), but due to the power of seniority within the police force and the existence of anti-discrimination laws within the workplace.  Maybe there's more homophobia amongst British police than I assume, or maybe it was just a poorly scripted subplot.

Oh, and there's the slight problem that you've probably seen this movie before.  Blitz takes a shocking amount of its plot from Dirty Harry, and it doesn't even give us a wink or a nudge.  Well, Blitz wishes it was a Clint Eastwood movie; it's a lot closer in style to Cobra.  Now, I happen to like Dirty Harry and Cobra, but Blitz is just a poor copy.  It's not that this is a bad or inept movie, so much as it is over-familiar.  If you like Jason Statham, it's decent enough.  If not, just dig up a movie with Callahan in it and you'll be better off.


  1. Good review! Thought the subplot with the drug-addicted cop dragged the movie down a bit and made it longer, but overall this was a solid "Stath" flick.

    Also love your caption of: "The Stath: too tough for uniforms, umbrellas, and rain." haha.

  2. It might sound stupid, but I keep a movie journal. This helps me for when I need to go back and draw a review for my strip "The Comic Critic." Thus I can tell you that I watched Blitz in Sept of 2011 and here were my quick notes:
    Blitz (2010)
    This is your basic rogue cop movie. We watched it because we like Jason Statham movies, but in all honesty his performance felt phoned-in and there wasn’t the charging whack-a-bad-guy feel to it that his other films have. I give it a four.

  3. @Ty: I think this is a solid idea and okay cast --- Statham as a tough cop seems like a no-brainer --- but it didn't quite come together. Oh well. At least I got a nickname for JS from watching this.

  4. @Mark: I don't think that's stupid at all. I take notes (usually on my cell phone) whenever I see something cool, subtle, or stupid in a movie.

    I didn't see the movie in your blog's archives, but from the couple of movies we've compared notes on, our ratings have been pretty close. If you ever do a comic for Blitz, I like the whack-a-bad-guy image. I just imagine The Stath shouting "OI!" every time he strikes.

  5. The undercover junior cop plot thread just felt like padding for weakness elsewhere and it didn't survive editing. Or worse didn't get developed at all. The snitch in the Korean grandmom track suit was the strongest character in the movie. The shot in the WC with the croc's, fanny pack, and track suit is classic.