Monday, 16 April 2018

Accident Man

Cast: Scott Adkins, Ray Stevenson, Michael Jai White, Ray Park, and Amy Johnston

Director: Jesse V. Johnson

101 minutes (15) 2018
Sony DVD Region 2

Rating: 7/10
Review by Ian Shutter

A lively comedy-thriller based upon a memorably absurdist comic-strip, written by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, and published in colour weekly Toxic! (1991), Accident Man is, basically, a story of vengeance, as up-market hit-man Mike Fallon strives to discover who murdered his ex-girlfriend. His rampage through disreputable venues of the big city’s underworld stirs up his varied league-of-assassins type colleagues, and results in trial-by-combat confrontations with known associates in a friendless society.

Unlike the recent American hit-man movie John Wick, where professional killers congregate in a posh hotel, this British production has rather coarse, often misogynistic, characters, and grim, splattery killings that are organised by a pub landlord. In contrast to slick Hollywood efforts, and even other British action movies about assassins like The Tournament (2009), this is a lower-budget London-centred sub-genre project concerning wholly gritty and bleak unreality where British cultural stereotypes, such as Big Ray, the pub landlord (a fiercely moustachioed Ray Stevenson, once the star of sequel Punisher: War Zone, before his casting as Asgardian warrior Volstagg in Thor movies) are remade as larger-than-life, with routinely disconcerting and equally amusing conviction.

Fallon’s climactic fight against Jane the Ripper (top stunt-performer-turned-actress Amy Johnston, Female Fight Club) cranks up the movie’s engine to run on a pure comic-book adrenaline. It’s a fine closing act. Director Jesse V. Johnson comes from a background in stunts and it shows, most obviously, in the slickly stylised choreography for this movie’s fighting scenes, where every punch and kick is expertly shot despite the modest budget. What's unexpected here is how precisely the humour works to make the comicbook world come to life. This is not a particularly realistic milieu but more of a tribute picture to the ever-popular cinematic realm of contract killers.

However, Accident Man draws its action genre riffs not from the likes of Michael Winner’s classic The Mechanic (1972), a notable vehicle for stony-faced Charles Bronson, but from Simon West’s remake The Mechanic (2011), starring Jason Statham. The main difference for Accident Man is that antihero Fallon pursues an investigation and revenge plot instead of being a retiring mentor (Bronson’s melancholic Arthur Bishop), who is ultimately betrayed by his protégé. It borrows far more from the Statham version of Bishop, and that’s arguably a very good and wise choice.

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