By Gabe Toro | The Playlist September 4, 2011 at 2:33AM
The world of “Blitz” is made up almost entirely of cops. On this cop planet, where the occasional child wanders into trouble and eventually is saved by said cops, these 9-to-5ers struggle to pay bills, worry about pensions, and operate from dingy, drab boardrooms. There’s a stark contrast between the ratty, dilapidated apartments where they live and the pristine, glassy office of a police psychologist. Most of these men and women are punching a clock, and seem too far down the food chain to change anything about this.
These problems don’t seem to phase our lead super cop Brant. As played by the might-as-well-be-invincible Jason Statham, he revels in the doldrums of the slums. Pugilistic to an extreme, the homophobic, and possibly classicist Brant gladly brandishes a baseball bat when it comes to the local hooligans, while proudly boasting of an ongoing record of police brutality. He’s a good cop because, in this world, what else is there to occupy your time?
The menial status of pay-wage cops takes a further hit when a small-time crook begins murdering uniformed officers left and right. What does he want? His motivations end up being petty and irrelevant, but its in his complete indifference to the law that he gleefully operates under the sway of chaotic carnage. He’s not so much a murderer as much as a blunt political object in a world that is so depoliticized into a realm of cops and ants. Appropriate that the killer (Aiden Gillen, all teeth) calls himself Blitz, short for Blitzkrieg -- these cops can barely eke out a living, let alone protect their own, so any assault, particularly from a petty criminal, seems potentially crippling.
“Blitz” sides with the recent “Harry Brown” in demonizing soulless criminal minds versus possibly-corrupt organizations, with individuals doing the immoral dirty work to preserve a fragile society. It feels less like an elegy to lost morals as much as a somewhat troubling call to arms, and there’s some sort of coded discomfort in both of these films taking lower class criminals and making them white to allow for a more palatable consumption, ignoring England’s cultural climate. Match this attitude with something like “Attack The Block,” where our lower class “criminals” are all real people, kids suffering from unfortunate home circumstances and attitudes. The inclusion of a scene where the basically-unknowable Blitz sits and watches a game show in the house of a murder victim while the body continues to bleed suggests our villain, as deranged as he may be, is an OCD sufferer.
Contrast this spastic troublemaker with Statham, again playing a world beating colossus. It’s his own physicality that allows his range to be forever stunted, as he makes his way from superman to superman in a quest to make similar variations on the same action film. Statham gives this character significant heft -- he can act, surprise, surprise -- but while his dark sense of humor and burnt-out demeanor add shades to this character that wouldn’t be present in some of his other efforts, it’s simply not possible to envision him not brutally punishing this scab of a man.
The film teams him with Officer Nash, an import from another station, and at first there’s tension, as Nash is an openly gay officer. This sadly ends up as window dressing as Nash eventually strengthens his grudging partnership with Brant by revealing his own doings as a cop who operates outside the law. Paddy Considine plays Nash with a slight actorly affectation, but otherwise, he’s sidekick cop all the way.
“Blitz” has gone direct to DVD stateside, which is interesting because it’s superior to several of Statham’s previous theatrical films, but the propulsion is closer to a TV procedural than a big screen actioner. Director Elliot Lester attempts to liven things up with a few kinetic chase sequences, utilizing the music of techno group The Quemists and giving the action a grimy, contemporary feel, though he certainly sides with the somewhat irksome political views of Brant and Nash, who, at a certain point, throw legality to the wind in pursuit of their killer. In a movie where a major reporter is literally thrown to the wolves as a comedic punch line, it seems just about right. [C]