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Stars: Sean Bean, Abhin Galeya, Charlotte Rampling, Tuppence Middleton, Peter Polycarpou, James Fox, Tom Burke, Michelle Ryan

Director: Hadi Hajaig

You know just what to expect from a Bean action thriller and auteur (he must be an auteur since he is producer and writer and director and editor) Hajaig definitely obliges. He doesn’t stint on violence, brawls, gunplay and assorted nastiness – including a vividly realised beheading with gruesome sound effects worth of an exploitation horror movie.

Bearded, Bean does what Bean does as a glowering secret service agent assigned to eliminate a terrorist cell in London and given to punching, kicking ass, shooting and generally making life tough for the Bad Guys. It’s not really his fault that his by-numbers role doesn’t give him much acting to do other than to scowl on cue.

The meatiest role goes to Galeya who makes his transition from idealistic law student (albeit, as he describes himself, a “Bacon eating, lager drinking sex maniac”) to devout and willing suicide bomber credible enough, with Polycarpou catalyzing his progress all too believably as the soft-spoken and all-too-terrifyingly-convincing radical Muslim cleric.

Hajaig opens with the undoubtedly arresting sight of a monstrously obese man enjoying noisy sex and then gets his ‘a suicide bomber is born’ story show moving speedily with plentiful action set pieces resulting in a thriller that emerges as a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed fast and forgotten even faster.

Several set pieces hit hard, notably the beheading (“I’m going to cut your head off like a pig’s”) and a particularly terrifying bombing although, as far as I was concerned, the scariest thing was watching terrorists laughing at Rowan Atkinson. Ugh!

Unfortunately Hajaig dilutes the overall impact by flitting back and forth in time: every time that happens, the film almost inevitably loses its narrative momentum.

Galeya is creepily convincing, Polycarpou even more, so while Fox and Rampling coast amiably enough through their roles as Bean’s secret agent superiors.

Alan Frank

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Warner Bros.. Colour.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 09 Mar 2012