Ashley Bashy Thomas and soap actress Michelle Ryan in The Man Inside
Directed by Dan Turner
Rating: 2 Out Of 5 Stars
Published: 26 July, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
British gangster flick: three words put together that more often than not spell a very gloomy two hours ahead.
For every Long Good Friday, there seems to be 101 painful Danny Dyer efforts.
Sadly, The Man Inside, for all of its pretty impressive supporting cast, bypasses the DVD shelf where the Long Good Friday is kept and goes straight into the “miss” box.
This film purports to offer a meaningful discourse about the relationship between sons and fathers, about what happens to a person when they are brought up surrounded by violence, intimidation, and how this can affect you into adult life.
It basically fails, long before it is counted out of the ring.
Clayton Murdoch (Ashley Bashy Thomas) has had a torrid life. His childhood was punctuated with episodes of extreme domestic violence committed by his gangster father. His dad seemed to think that the cute four-year-old in front of him would benefit in the long-run from being slapped about, watching his mother being slapped about and generally living in a slapped-about world.
This is not a nice vibe, nor an issue that should be taken lightly, yet the poor dialogue, coupled with disturbing scenes, means the power of such imagery is lost on the way.
Believability in a British gangster movie is so important – that, or as Lock Stock showed, a sense of humour.
This film has neither.
In one scene, Clayton’s father makes him watch a shopkeeper he has just stabbed bleed to death. Not only is this rather grim, it is so far-fetched as to offer a defence for the viewer for everything that follows on.
After such a scene, whatever happens next must be taken with more than a pinch of salt.
Clayton grows up learning to channel his aggression into the world of boxing (cue lots of shadily-lit empty ring scenes) while his dad does a stretch.
But when his own family becomes threatened, he loses the control and discipline ring lore has taught him – and he turns to his father to help sort out his troubles.
The cast are pretty acceptable: the always-watchable Peter Mullan, backed by David Harewood and EastEnders veteran Michelle Ryan do their best.
But even if you have silver cutlery and the finest china, you can’t make a gourmet feast with a can of spaghetti hoops.
This is a cinematic Pot Noodle of a film.