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Stars: Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, Benedict Wong, Vicky McClure

Director: Steve Knight

This Jason Statham vehicle, though no better (nor worse) than most of his films, is not entirely typical of his prolific output. Our balding kill-machine plays Joseph Smith, who now sleeps in a cardboard box in London's Soho after a berserk reaction to the deaths of colleagues in Afghanistan cost him his army career.

High on drink and drugs when he can get them, Smith, though helped by Sister Cristina (Buzak), a Polish nun from the local mission, is at the end of his tether; then, trying to protect isabel (Victoria Bewick), a north country girl also sleeping rough, Smith is badly beaten by local toughs and, barely escaping, falls though a skylight and into the posh apartment of a man whose answerphone proclaims he's away for seven months.

Sifting through a pile of post (which the owner would surely have stopped while he was away), Smith finds a credit card and pin number. He gives the resultant money to the nun, who is desperate to see a great ballerina's final appearance.

Getting his life in order, Smith becomes chief enforcer for local Chinese protection gangs; calling himself Joey Jones, he becomes known as Crazy Joe, making stacks of money, which he gives either to the mission or his ex-wife (McClure).

But news that Isabel has been killed by a brothel client who beats up hookers changes Joey's destiny.

You get the impression that Statham is aiming for something higher here, but, although punctuated with some typically violent fights to please the fans, the film seems longer than it is, with some slow dialogue scenes, often with characters saying very little. Use of London West End locations, however, is ingenious and interesting. Some Soho alleyways really do seem cut out for the brutal beatings seen in the film.

David Quinlan

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Technicolor.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 23 Jun 2013