Twenty8k is a new British film from Formosa Films, directed by David Kew and Neil Thompson and starring Parminder Nagra, Stephen Dillane and Kaya Scodelario. Released earlier this month- and coming to DVD and Blu-ray on 1 October- the fast-paced thriller follows the story of a gang shooting in East London which is not as simple as it first appears. When her brother (Sebastian Nanena) is arrested, young fashion worker Deeva Jani (Nagra) returns from Paris to conduct her own investigation into the shooting and in the process, uncovers a far greater crime than the one for which her brother is being charged.
Twenty8k is an excellent piece of British cinema with a lot to recommend it. BAFTA-winning writer Paul Abbott has created a screenplay here which does not mess about; it’s as sharp as it is swift. The first half-hour is a non-stop rollercoaster which somehow manages to introduce a full and diverse cast of characters without ever halting the action. From the first, this action is supported by an appropriately racy score by Ruth Barrett and the atmosphere is completed with sparingly used aerial shots of London. The first impression is that of an effortlessly realistic film which is part gang-war thriller and part murder mystery.
After an action-packed and truly thrilling first half, however, there was a certain lapse of energy. At around a hundred minutes, the film is fairly long- especially considering its ultra-fast pace, which is more familiar on television than in cinema. As the film goes on, this awkward fit threatens to undo the work which the writing and acting do so well initially; without spoiling the plot, I would say that there are a good few major plot revelations which come about with a kind of rushed obviousness. Even the editing seems to suffer, as the quick, slick and uniform transitions of the first half give way to a mixture of fades and abrupt cuts which are somewhat baffling.
The acting is very good throughout, with some particularly effective casting- most notably Michael Socha as gang-leader Tony, whose face is both cruelly impassive and yet somehow sympathetic. Nagra provides a believable performance as fashion worker Deeva Jani, and really holds the whole film together by doing so. Overall, a well-chosen cast who very much lived up to the project and to their previous credits, giving the impression of a realistic- and widely varied- East London environment.
I very much enjoyed Twenty8k, and I think the criticism that it might have flowed better in a miniseries format is hardly criticism at all. After all, the main problem here is that there is simply too much plot to treat effectively in a film- the story would have benefitted, I think, from being given a little more breathing room in terms of both run time and production time. That said, I have no difficulty in recommending Twenty8k even to those who might not think of it as their sort of film; this story has so much more to offer than your average thriller that it is worth a watch whatever your tastes.
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Twenty8k will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 1 October 2012.