Monday 18 December 2017

Fighting on the inside

Paul Whitington

the man inside

(15A, limited release, 99 minutes)

Director: Dan Turner Stars: Ashley Thomas, Peter Mullan, David Harewood, Michelle Ryan


Apart from some pop video flourishes and the intermittent intrusions of a mindless London dance soundtrack, The Man Inside is like one of those boxing melodramas Hollywood used to knock out like widgets in the 1940s.

The hero was always a boxer from the wrong side of the tracks who struggled to escape from criminal associates and win the girl who would be the making of him. Those old boxing films, though, were usually pretty competent, and Dan Turner's melodrama is all over the place.

Ashley Thomas is Clayton Murdoch, a London boxer with talent but a troubled past.

He's haunted by visions of his father, Eugene (David Harewood), a psychopath who's currently doing life for murdering a Pakistani shopkeeper.

Ashley wants a better life for his mother and his two younger siblings. But when his little brother contacts their father, things turn nasty pretty fast.

The film's thrusting idea is that Ashley is terrified that he's as innately violent as his dad and, in countless flashbacks and moody close-ups, we watch him wrestle with his demons.

He doesn't do much else, though, and dodgy performances from him and most of his colleagues collide unpleasantly with a ropey script to make this a boxing picture best forgotten.

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