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Starred Up


Stars: Jack O' Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Sian Breckin, David Ajala, Peter Ferdinando, Sam Spruell, Matt Faris, Anthony Welsh

Director: David Mackenzie

The title of this hard man's drama refers to teenage tearaway Eric (O'Connell, a lot better than he was in 300: Rise of an Empire) 'upgraded' to adult prison because of his extreme behaviour. When he gets there, nothing has changed; he's soon fighting warders, shouting, screamning and trashing his cell.

Only difference from his previous incarceration is that one of the toughest inmates in the new jail is his own father (Australian actor Mendelsohn with a convincing Estuary accent).

It's not a bad entry in the genre, even though it has many of the usual clich├ęs, such as crooked warden and guards, 'shivs' freely passed from prisoner to prisoner and the 'bleeding heart' social worker (Friend) who attempts to draw Eric into his 'group' - violent convicts whose behaviour and prospects he hopes to improve.

There's just as much swearing and violence - including a frightening attack in the shower - as you would expect from a Brit prison flick of the modern era, if not more, all of it delivered with the maximum impact and aggression. Performances are pretty good, although no one is really outstanding.

David Quinlan

UK 2013. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour (unspecified).
105 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

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

Review date: 16 Mar 2014