Newest Review: ... any expectations as an actor and being rich and famous is not my driving force. I'm not really very ambitious. I'm more interested in enj... more
You're well screwed mate!
Member Name: Jojoborne
Advantages: Well acted British drama
Disadvantages: Predictable at times
One of the genres or mixed genres of film that I like to watch are the British made prison film, football hooligan films and the gangster/criminal/heist movies that are churned out year after year. I say churned out because there are a lot of them. Some of them are well made and some of them are trying to make a small profit on their slim budgets by cashing in on the genre.
Screwed is a serious take on the life of an ex-squaddie and what life is like in one of the tougher British Prisons as an active prison guard. The story is based on the experiences of Ronnie Thompson, who wrote a book about it and also penned the screenplay to this film. Thompson spent seven years working in various prisons and the screenplay is based on the book and the experiences he went through in the job.
James D'Arcy plays the lead role of Sam Norwood and plays it really well. It is quite a versatile role in that he had to play an ex-squaddie, just back from Iraq and portray all that goes with that. He suffers from nightmares and flashbacks and the death of his friend dying in his arms haunts him. Not the best grounding for working in an enclosed space with hardened criminals who have the ability to spontaneously self-combust at any moment. Darcy, whose real name is Simon D'Arcy is an accomplished actor who has been around since nineteen ninety-five and starred in many TV productions and many big name movies. His latest work includes the role of Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock. He was brilliant in that and it is a movie I well may review at a future date. He is a grounded young man and very versatile. In an interview he was quoted as saying 'I don't have any expectations as an actor and being rich and famous is not my driving force. I'm not really very ambitious. I'm more interested in enjoying my life and looking after my family than being hugely successful. There are lots of people I admire and respect, but I don't necessarily want to be like them. I'm too happy being myself.' Now if you can't admire that, then what can you admire? Darcy's performance is the lynch-pin of the movie and I think he did a great job.
The backing cast are a who's who of British films, some good films and some not so good but you can guarantee that they all have one thing in common, irrelevant of their past work; they can all act.
Noel Clarke plays the prisoner named Truman and brings with it that 'wouldn't trust him as far as you could throw him' persona. Clarke is a talented young lad who is equally as comfortable in front of the camera as he is behind it. Having directed 'Kidulthood' and the sequel 'Adulthood' at a very young age, this versatile young man is no stranger to violent, gritty dramas. Most of you will remember him from the first series of the modern day Doctor Who. He has come a long way and I think he will continue to grow as an actor and director and good luck to him.
Frank Harper plays Deano and as you would expect it is his usual type of role. He has the cockney slang and the swagger and an air of menace around it at the same time as being one of the lads. He plays a prison guard that befriends Sam but is not at all who he seems to be. Harper has played this role over and over in different guises in such films as 'The Football Factory', 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' and 'This is England'. Love him or hate him (or the characters he plays) the man can act the part.
David Hayman plays the governor of the prison and again is playing a role he is accustomed to; a role that is no nonsense and to the point. Most of you will recognise him from TV's 'Trial and Retribution'.
Let's take a look at what the movie is about in the way of plot or storyline.
The story revolves around former soldier Sam Norwood who takes a job as a prison officer when he returns from Iraq and as often is the case with ex-military, can't find a job and does not want to be restricted by your average nine to five or sitting behind a desk. He has offers from two close friends but knows the job is dodgy as it will be running drugs for a major player. While working in the prison he becomes embroiled in an on-going battle between the governor, who wants his prison run well and looks for any excuse to get rid of guards who do not play ball and a prison community that is a mish-mash of prisoners and guards on the make, involving drugs, money and bent screws looking the other way when need be.
Sam finds his feet as a guard but doesn't like what he sees. His home life and his work life become separate entities and as his life starts to spiral out of control, he has the choice of turning against his so-called colleagues or pitting himself against the lags on the higher rung of the prison underworld. Whatever Sam decides it will have ramifications that will shake the very foundation of the prison and he will be lucky to come out of it in one piece. One thing is for sure; Sam will learn that you can never please all parties, no matter what you try to do.
After the first twenty minutes to half an hour of this movie I felt like I was just drifting and I didn't feel like the character was going to mean enough for me to invest in it any further. When I feel this I always watch on as I feel I owe it to the people who have worked so hard in making it. I also hold onto a hope that it may improve. Thankfully, this movie did as I did what to know what the outcome would be.
Ok, it was slightly predictable but the performance of D'Arcy made it worth watching. I've seen more realistic portrayals of prisons in film but it wasn't a bad account and you can tell that the screenplay is tempered with some kind of reality.
The acting in the movie does give this film some credibility and the director Reg Traviss, does seem to know what he is doing after directing his first two efforts on a small budget too. Traviss was rumoured to be great friends with Amy Winehouse and there was even talk of marriage just before she died.
The atmosphere of the movie comes across pretty well and you really can see and feel that Sam is out of control and possibly heading towards some terrible outcome. The prison setting is realistic and passes for a prison without any really obvious mistakes, although I suppose if you really wanted to dissect every section of the movie then you would find some continuity errors, but that is true of most pictures and again, I'll leave that to the saddos that get off on that kind of thing.
Overall I thought it was quite a compelling movie with some interesting, underlying messages and morals. Not filled with action but contains violence and fights that you would expect in any prison movie without adding them purely for effect.
I would give it three out of five stars and recommend it for D' Arcy's performance.
Summary: Worth watching for D Arcy's performance