The Savages

Starring Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows. Directed by Roger Donaldson
Running Time: 112 mins
Rated: Rated MA 15+ (Strong coarse language and sexual references)
This is a very interesting thriller. It has a lively style and pacing that keeps the audience involved. It is also an intriguing conspiracy drama. It opened in the United Kingdom the week that members of MI6 gave testimony in the Diana, Princess of Wales, inquest because of the accusations of plots by the Royal Family and British security against her. The suggestions seemed laughable - and then along comes this kind of conspiracy plot!

Jason Statham, whom action audiences are more used to seeing as a tough guy in routine action thrillers like The Transporter films or The War, has a very good role as a petty criminal who, along with two friends, is led into agreeing to rob a Baker St bank by an old flame (Saffron Burrows). She doesn't know. He doesn't know but, from the start, we the audience know that it is a set-up, a secret set up by British security agencies to recover some compromising photos of a member of the royal family cavorting scandalously in the West Indies.

A crooked West Indian has stored the photos as a precaution against his being prosecuted for a range of crimes.

What seems like a simple plan becomes what always happens to simple plans. They go wrong and have disastrous consequences. Not only are officials and politicians involved, they have their own Profumo scandal type problems with photographic evidence against them which are also in a box in the bank vault along with a book recording all the payments to corrupt policeman by a Soho club racketeer (played with sinister charm and ruthlessness by David Suchet).

The clever and intricate screenplay, with a tone of sardonic humour, was written by veterans Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais who have been writing films and television series (like Porridge) since 1964 and directed by Australian Roger Donaldson who captures the atmosphere of 1970s London. His cinematographer has a tone and muted colour that visitors to a cloudy London will recognise as authentic.
The performances by a large cast are uniformly fine.

The film is complex, many strands of plot but it all comes together to make us feel we had been there.

Paramount Out July 31

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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