It wouldn’t be wise to expect too much from Alex Pillai’s crime thriller Victim (2011), given the producer credit of one Danny Donnelly, who earlier this year subjected us to Adam Deacon’s unbearable star vehicle Payback Season (2012). While there are a few meritorious aspects here, it basically follows the urban thriller template beat-for-beat without apology. When kindly country lass Tia (Ashley Madewke) comes to London to stay with cousin Davina (Anna Nightingale), she inadvertently throws a spanner in the works. Davina is a mark, a distraction used during the robberies of her gangster friends.
When the teen Davina pines for, Tyson (Ashley Chin), in turn takes a liking to Tia, jealously sends everything heading towards an unpleasant confrontation. Trying simply too hard to replicate the slick confidence of the American gangster film, Victim is beset by a spare technical presentation and characters adhering strictly to tiresome ‘London lad’ stereotypes. There is no social realism here despite the clear attempt to say something, and backing it all to a soundtrack of garish British rap ultimately generates more guffaws than thrills. Any apparent tension derives from Tia, the only thoroughly good person in the group, and whether or not she will be corrupted by the noxious environment she has wandered into.
Some nice teases to this early on provide firm suspense, but rote familial drama soon dominates things, as Tyson deals with debts left to him by his degenerate mother, which make it all the harder to care for his little sister. Inevitably, Tyson has to take one final job, and as you can expect, things don’t go so well. We’ve seen this time and time again, and it is repeated here with little variation. More problematic is Pillai’s insistence to introduce us to more characters than he has the breadth to adequately handle in a sub-90-minute runtime.
A twist you can guess long before it abounds combined with a thoroughly ridiculous ending undo most of the good work done, and a climactic monologue comes off as preachy rather than poignant. Pillai has a keen visual sensibility that gives the night-time East End of London a vibrant feel despite the low-budget, and a cheeky Deacon cameo generates a chuckle, but on the whole, Victim is a small-fry thriller with pretensions to something well beyond its remit.