There's such an important issue at the centre of this British thriller that the film should not be ignored, even if filmmaker Shan Khan strains to turn it into a formulaic thriller. It's beautifully shot and performed with emotional resonance by a gifted cast, but the fragmented structure makes it difficult to engage with the story.
The topic at hand is honour killing, a threat that becomes real for British-Pakistani estate agent Mona (Aiysha Hart) when she decides to run off with her boyfriend Tanvir (Nikesh Patel) against her family's wishes. So her mother (Harvey Virdi) and older brother Kasim (Faraz Ayub), reluctantly joined by younger brother Adel (Shubham Saraf), hire an unnamed bounty hunter (Paddy Considine) to track her down and stop her. But this case forces him to examine with his own past as a racist thug.
Considine delivers one of his most textured performances yet as a man who is finally listening to his conscience after years of harsh brutality. This makes him an absorbing character through which to enter this story, and his limited interaction with others is telling and sometimes moving. Hart is also terrific as a young woman who is pushed from high-flying professional to cowering victim by her own subculture. The other standout is Saraf as a teen who knows his family traditions are utterly wrong and feels helpless to stand up against them.
So it's frustrating that writer-director Khan leaps around in time in a way so jarring that it seems like the reels are being projected out of order. There's also the problem that the script continually tries to force complex, layered characters into simplistic hero or villain roles while wrenching the plot itself into a standard thriller complete with a corny final shootout. So by the time the film stumbles into its climactic scenes, we are only watching out of loyalty to the superb cast and vitally important themes. And we're frustrated because Khan clearly has filmmaking skills to make a much better movie on this urgent subject.
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th April 2014
Distributed by: 108 Media
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Shan Khan
Producer: Jason Newmark, Nisha Parti
Screenwriter: Shan Khan
Starring: Aiysha Hart as Mona, Faraz Ayub as Kasim, Shubham Saraf as Adel, Harvey Virdi as Mother, Nikesh Patel as Tanvir
Also starring: William Ruane