independent

Thursday 20 June 2019

Gritty crime thriller a slick show of bloody violence

Film Review: The Corrupted (18),  5.5/10

Sam Claflin as Liam McDonagh in The Corrupted
Sam Claflin as Liam McDonagh in The Corrupted

Crime and punishment trade bruising blows in director Ron Scalpello's gritty crime thriller set against the backdrop of East London's gleaming skyscrapers and dockside cranes.

Scripted by Nick Moorcroft, The Corrupted is handcuffed to a motley crew of dodgy cops, idealistic journalists and sadistic crimelords, who meet foolhardy challenges to their authority with an abattoir bolt gun to the cranium.

These are the kind of morally warped characters who toss rivals into shallow graves and foreshadow downfall with a gnarly one-liner: 'Get out now or there's only two places you're going to end up: a wooden box or a concrete one.'.

Blood pools beneath the capital's soaring skyline, which looks breath-taking through cinematographer Richard Mott's lens, contrasting the bright lights of Canary Wharf with the darkened desires of men in power.

Composer Andrew Kawczynski channels the Bourne films with his unnecessarily bombastic score and Scalpello follows suit with an impressively staged and wince-inducing fight sequence in a living room, which gleefully cranks up the machismo and brutality.

The Corrupted wears its 18 certificate for strong bloody violence as a badge of honour.

In 2002, crime syndicate boss Clifford Cullen (Timothy Spall) gets a tip off from his well-placed contact (Hugh Bonneville) that London will be confirming a bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Cullen forcibly purchases swathes of land in East London including a plot belonging to father-of-two Eamonn McDonagh (Seán Dooley).

As soon as Eamonn puts pen to paper in exchange for duffel bag of cash, his death is staged as a suicide.

Seventeen years later, Eamonn's wayward son Liam (Sam Claflin) emerges from prison after serving nine years for armed robbery.

He returns to Stratford with brother Seán (Joe Claflin), determined to rebuild bridges with old flame Grace (Naomi Ackie) and their young son Archie.

Unfortunately, Liam is drawn into the tangled web spun by Cullen, who is now CEO of a housing consortium with various high-ranking politicians and police officers on its payroll.

Liam's fate also becomes entwined with idealistic police detective Neil Beckett (Noel Clarke) and his partner Grace Connelly (Charlie Murphy), who intend to eradicate corruption from the force.

Bullets fly and knuckles shatter in the shadow of the Olympic Park.

The Corrupted is slickly engineered with familiar tropes recalling the Long Good Friday and a rich tradition of glowering gangsters and goons, not to mention the BBC series Line Of Duty.

Scalpello's film doesn't scale those dizzy heights of narrative sophistication and nail-biting tension, but Claflin is a likeable if underwritten pawn in a satisfyingly tangled conspiracy and Moorcroft's script unspools with one genuine shock.

Spall vanishes behind the snarl of his crime boss, who senses power slipping through his power-hungry fingers and warns: 'If this ship goes down, everybody goes down.'.

Disagree at your peril.

Sligo Champion

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