Title: The Liability
UK release date: 17th May 2013
Running time: 82 minutes
Cast: Jack O’Connell (Adam), Tim Roth (Roy), Peter Mullan (Peter), Talulah Riley (Girl)
Director: Craig Viveiros
Writer: John Wrathall
3D option? No
On paper The Liability looks like a great action romp. A hit is witnessed by a girl who manages to get away, thus ensues a chase to silence her.
Of course it’s not just as simple as that, Adam (Jack O’Connell) has just crashed his mother’s boyfriend’s (Peter, played by Peter Mullan) £60,000 car. Peter isn’t very happy with this and demands Adam pays back the sum. He works out that with a minimum wage job this should only take a few years (assuming he buys nothing else at all ever).
Already we’re treated to glimpses into Peter’s world when Adam takes a peek at a laptop that’s been left on and completely unlocked despite the fact that it contains hardcore porn involving Peter. Seriously, here we have a criminal overlord that hasn’t the foresight to at least password protect his laptop. No wonder things are going pear shaped for his “business”.
The next day finds Adam clearing out the guttering in an attempt to shave a few quid off his debt. Peter offers him a way to make a bit of cash, by welcoming him in to the family business. It’s a simple enough job; he’ll be a driver to one of Peter’s colleagues for the day. Simple, right?
Of course not. Alarm bells should start ringing when he’s told to meet at a petrol station of all places. When he gets into the drivers seat he is immediately told not to refer to Roy by name, and…oh yes…the keys are missing. Adam is expected to start the car by way of the protruding wires from the steering wheel column. Adam has no qualms with this, indeed he finds it quite cool.
I think that’s what I found most disturbing about this film; Adam. He’s a strange character, he almost seems naïve in how long it takes him to figure out the true purpose of their mission, yet he seems tough enough to want to hold guns and have goes at maiming people. His random swinging between tough-guy to innocent almost childlike boy is a strange characterisation and I’m still wondering to what degree it actually works. It gives his character depth, but also makes him look
The characters do not gel. None of them have chemistry and the interactions between Adam and The Girl (she remains unnamed throughout the film) are jarring at best. The ending seemed a bit forced, as if the writers wanted a happy ending but couldn’t be bothered to think it through logically.
Casting was similarly appalling. Tallulah Riley does a convincing Russian accent, but her acting is very monotonous in this. Similarly Adam’s mother seems very fake and almost as if she doesn’t want to be there. I realise her character was supposed to be vain and one dimensional but it was taken to a new level.
As already mentioned Adam was too strange to actually like. His willingness to be a general idiot when driving or trying to look tough by holding a gun didn’t quite work. Tim Roth was the only shining star; his performance was commendable, but with a lack of anyone to bounce off it all falls a bit flat.
The pace is quite slow, especially the first half where the set up for the actual action seems to take an age, despite the fact it is a very short film. Once it gets going, though, it picks up and it’s all action. The pace quickens as the plot twists and soon the hitmen become targets themselves.
Don’t be fooled, this hasn’t got a Die Hard budget. The car chases and the single explosion aren’t going to win any effects awards. Everything feels very cheap and amateurish, from the acting to the sets.
The cars, too, are rubbish. I realise they’re supposed to be old bangers but the first stolen car is an A reg. You’d actually be hard pressed to find one these days on the roads, despite classic cars (of which this was not) the best I’ve ever seen on England’s roads is an old E reg. Then they hit home again with a C reg van I believe, again this would be very rare. More believable would have been something along the lines of new style P reg, or the newer registrations plates from 01 to about 03.
The filming is all rather samey. It doesn’t look particularly polished and again rather amateurish. Compared to the offerings we’re accustomed to these days from Hollywood this could have been filmed five years ago and you wouldn’t realise the difference.
If you can look past the rather wooden acting from some actors, Adam’s rather juvenile and unlikable character and the low budget, this is a gritty well thought out plot though there are very few subversions from the main plot and I feel it could have been fleshed out a bit. Its 82 minute run time contains only the one plot and gives no attempt at trying to paint a picture of the world Adam has found himself in.
There is a lot of swearing (including copious use of the f-word) and some sex and sexual violence, so the 15 certificate rating is well deserved. I think that considering the type of character Adam is, though (teenage thug) and the seedy world in which the film is set, I think the swearing is justified.
All in all a decent watch and a nice British film, but definitely not Hollywood standards. One to watch when it comes on TV rather than spend your hard earned cash at the cinema.
My rating: ★★☆☆☆