The Corrupted review – lively gangland pulp in the shadow of the London Olympics | Film

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Slipped into cinemas on the quiet, Ron Scalpello’s starry, busy British crime drama proves to be a semi-entertaining mixed bag. It has a measure of ambition, strong dramatic scenes and grabby performances, not least from Timothy Spall as a property magnate looming over east London like some doubly malevolent reincarnation of Bob Hoskins’ Harold Shand from The Long Good Friday. Yet the storytelling connecting its disparate elements starts to feel dashed-off, as if somebody involved couldn’t wait for it to occupy the 10pm slot on London Live that may be its destiny. This approach short-sells both cinematographer Richard Mott’s striking framing of the capital’s moneyed hotspots and the spiky idea at the heart of Nick Moorcroft’s script: that the great triumph of the 2012 Olympiad was built on the shakiest of foundations.

The generic title hides a dual meaning. Partly it refers to the once-toxic scrap of Stratford forcibly reclaimed by fatcat developers like Spall’s Clifford Cullen, which involves setting murderous muscle on a mechanic holding out on him in the run-up to the Games. Yet it also refers to the biddable entourage of the mechanic’s son Liam (a newly sturdy Sam Claflin), attempting to go straight in the present day on these very same streets. Upstanding pawns in the populous supporting cast include a sympathetic Naomi Ackie as Liam’s clangingly named ex Grace, and Noel Clarke as the detective investigating the greasy depths of Cullen’s pockets. Question marks, however, linger over David Hayman’s gruff DCI, who has a nicely chilly moment beside an open grave, and Hugh Bonneville as a vaguely Cameronian Westminster bigwig.

There’s enough activity for a miniseries, and while Scalpello casts well and pulls stretches into cinematic shape, he’s caught garbling key plot points to get to the saleable gunplay and fisticuffs. Some of the action pops, like the tag-team clash in which Clarke, Claflin and Ackie subdue former bareknuckler and all-round hefty unit Decca Heggie with unlikely domestic items. Yet the hardman dialogue is generally as unpersuasive as you’d expect from the writer of Fisherman’s Friends: only Spall, slyly holding court on where his character stands in relation to Europe, has the chops to make any of it stick. Dexter Fletcher’s similarly underpromoted Wild Bill will remain the definitive movie time-capsule of our now-fading Olympian glories – but Scalpello’s film is livelier pulp than the absence of advance fanfare would suggest.

Source: The Guardian
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