Starring: Tim Roth, Jack O’Connell, Talulah Rilay
You may like this if you like: Blitz (Elliot Lester, 2011), The Hit (Stephen Fears, 1984), Down Terrace (Ben Wheatley, 2009)
19 year old Adam (O’Connell) is a tearaway teen that tries the patience of his mum’s gangster boyfriend, Peter. After Adam rights off his expensive Mercedes, Peter decides to give him a job so he can start paying him back: To work as a driver for a ‘business associate’, Roy (Roth) who ‘fits kitchens’. However Roy is of course a hit man with plans of this being his last job and things start off smooth but when a crafty and mysterious Latvian woman (Riley) witnesses their ‘job’ events spiral out of control leading to a dramatic and tense game of cat and mouse.
First, I feel it is necessary for me to give a word of warning to anyone who reads the back of the DVD cover while perusing the DVD aisles. Those clever people in marketing appear to be attempting to sell this film as something it is not. They seem to be describing The Liability as some kind of dark, intense action thriller that ‘fans of Kill List will love’. Well, it is nothing like Kill List as the tone is actually quite tongue in cheek and The Liability was more in my view a darkly comic thriller. This tone seems intentional and I actually felt the film was better and much more enjoyable for it. The story developments are quite predictable with only a couple of real surprises and I think it would be fair to say they did not have the budget to make it a more explosive action packed thriller. In this case Craig Viveiros and screenwriter John Wrathall made the right choice to add some dry humour. There is a slight tongue in cheek tone that is definitely there throughout the entire narrative and this really works in the film’s favour. The Liability will not exactly have you on the edge of your seat but for me it is a surprisingly watchable and enjoyable film.
One of the strengths here is the characters are very likeable; Jack O’Connell is at first a little annoying but does actually become quite likeable and endearing. Tim Roth gives a really good performance that is darkly charismatic and slightly bordering on parody, but it somehow works really well and keeps the whole film together. Peter Mullan overdoes it slightly in his role, again making his character bordering on parody, but as it kind of fits with the whole tone of a film that appears not to take itself too seriously at all then it is just about forgivable. Talulah Riley’s character is the spanner in the works that keeps the plot plodding along and she delivers a quietly effective and very watchable performance.
At only 82 minutes The Liability is a film that does not outstay its welcome and it is obvious that with a bigger budget they could have potentially done more in terms of action and maybe plot. I would not suggest anyone rushes out to watch it, but it is entertaining enough and surprisingly funny. There are most definitely worse things to fill 80 minutes. Hopefully next time Viveiros and Wrathall will be given a bigger budget, and then we shall see what they can really do.