The Liability (R15)

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Review byMatthew Turner17/05/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Watchable, blackly comic British thriller enlivened by likeable performances, some engagingly left-field turns and a script that's peppered with decent one-liners, though it's also increasingly ridiculous and can't quite steer clear of the usual clichés.

What's it all about?
Directed by Craig Viveiros, The Liability stars Jack O'Connell (Skins) as gobby 19 year old Adam, whose mother Nicky (Kierston Wareing) has recently married wealthy mobster Peter (Peter Mullan). After crashing Peter's expensive car, Adam is forced to take a job as driver to mysterious hitman Roy (Tim Roth), who's taking on the time-honoured 'one last job' before attending his daughter's wedding. However, things don't quite go according to plan and soon the pair find themselves targeted by a ruthless female avenger (Talulah Riley), who's hell-bent on killing everyone involved in a sex-trafficking ring run by Peter.

The Good
O'Connell's likeable screen persona is put to good use here and Viveiros generates a number of very funny, blackly comic moments from the juxtaposition of his chirpy-chappie character with the standard tropes of the hitman thriller genre – the best examples include Adam cheerfully asking Roy to ‘Give us a go – who knows when I'll get this chance again?’ when dismembering a victim or blankly admitting that he couldn't kill Riley's character because he fancied her. Roth is equally good as the taciturn Roy and even manages to throw in an amusing reference to a previous hitman role in Stephen Frears' The Hit, petulantly declaring ‘I haven't killed a woman since 1983!’; his car stereo soundtrack choices also add considerably to the film's overall quirkiness.

Riley is surprisingly effective as their mysterious assailant, though it's a shame Viveiros didn't have the courage to let her perform the whole thing without dialogue. In addition, Mullan is a suitably nasty piece of work as Peter, though Wareing is criminally underused once again.

The Bad
The script is packed with great one-liners and there are a number of intriguing wrinkles in what initially looks like a standard plot set-up, although the film does eventually snap back into predictability, especially where the central hitman/assistant relationship is concerned. It also has some quite glaring logistics issues and is one of those films where the police are nowhere to be seen, despite multiple car thefts, shootings, murders and so on.

Worth seeing?
Despite some issues with predictability and logic, The Liability is an enjoyable British thriller with an engagingly dark streak of humour and likeable performances from O'Connell and Roth. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 26/01/2020 11:29

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