Payback Season (R15)

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Review byMatthew Turner11/03/2012

One out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Poorly directed and often excruciating to watch, this is a painfully pedestrian British drama with a simplistic, finger-wagging script and an awkward central performance from BAFTA Rising Star Adam Deacon.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Danny Donnelly, Payback Season stars BAFTA Rising Star Adam Deacon as Jerome, a Premiership footballer (Sir Geoff Hurst, no less, plays his agent), who's living the high life of fast cars, faster women and gorgeous riverside apartments but still regularly finds time to pop back to his old estate to visit his dear old mum and his less-than-impressed younger brother (Liam Donnelly). On his latest trip home, Jerome runs into his old neighbourhood gang and decides to impress them by taking them out for a night at a swanky London nightclub, but things quickly go horribly wrong when jealous gang-leader Baron (David Ajala) starts tapping him for money on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Jerome begins a tentative romance with posh TV reporter Lisa (Nicola Burley), who's shocked when her gossip reporter friend Izzy (Anna Popplewell) brings her a story about Jerome's apparently ongoing gang connections.

The Bad
Adam Deacon's a fine character actor when he's playing wise-cracking support roles or weaselly scumbags but he's surely nobody's idea of a charismatic leading man, let alone a Premiership footballer. As such, he's singularly unconvincing here, whether on the training ground (there's not a single shot of him kicking a ball) or in the painfully written romance, and it's impossible to root for him, not least because all Jerome's troubles are his own stupid fault.

To be fair to the film, there's strong work from both Leo Gregory (as Jerome's friend and trainer) and from David Ayala, who's both charismatic (so much so that he shows up Deacon's lack of same in contrast) and chilling as Baron. However, Burley struggles with an equally unconvincing part (not helped by her appalling posh accent), while The Chronicles of Narnia's Anna Popplewell is shockingly bad as Izzy and seems to have let a five year old apply her make-up, in the dark.

The Worse
Aside from the morally simplistic script (“Stay away from the bad man, kids”) and the less than convincing performances, the film's biggest problem is the direction, which is painfully pedestrian throughout – the training scenes (basically just four people standing around) are particularly bad, while Deacon's wandering-into-shot entrances in every scene quickly become laughable.

Worth seeing?
It will be interesting to see if the legions of fans that voted him BAFTA's Rising Star show up for Payback Season, because this is staggeringly inept on a number of different levels and will test the patience of even the most committed Deacon devotee.

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Content updated: 28/02/2020 09:33

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