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Movies: Blitz ***

Elliott Lester's Blitz is part of a long line of unpretentious and cheerfully violent London crime dramas that includes everything from The Sweeney to The Long Good Friday. While not a particularly distinguished lineage, these Cockney cop capers can be great fun, and Blitz is immensely likeable in a cheap and trashy sort of way.

Jason Statham is Detective Sergeant Tom Brant, an angry, cynical and quite possibly alcoholic south London policeman who takes a robustly direct approach to crime prevention.

In a tremendously enjoyable opening scene, he interrupts a gang of hoodied morons who are trying to break into a car. He proceeds to batter the Jesus out of them with a hurley stick, while explaining that the weapon is used in an Irish game that's "a cross between hockey and murder".

Mr Brant is one of those coppers who's constantly on the verge of being suspended, and his little stunt with the hurley stick lands him in hot water with his bosses. But when an unhinged maniac begins executing cops in broad daylight, Brand is back in favour and he's teamed with a detective called Porter Nash (Paddy Considine) to track down the killer.

There then ensues a game of cat and mouse that to some extent echoes the plot of Dirty Harry, and Aidan Gillen has great fun as Barry Weiss, the chief suspect and a man devoid of charm or any redeeming qualities. Overall, the story ticks along nicely and makes a virtue of its trashiness. Considine is a wonderful character actor I'd happily watch in anything, and as for Statham, this is easily the best performance I've seen him give. His comic timing is excellent: when one nervous witness asks him why he's not taking notes, he sighs and replies: "Do I look like I carry a fucking pencil". Indeed you do not, sir.

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