It would appear that the old adage ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ also applies within the context of filmmaking, as made painfully evident by the newly-released, tri-directed British crime drama I Against I (2012). With Mark Cripps, David Ellison and James Marquand all credited with spending time in the hot-seat, it’s easy to see why the results are so markedly underwhelming. A weak, woefully written script does the film no favours at all, only to be further accentuated by a number of remarkably lacklustre performances.
Set across one long night on the murky streets of the nation’s capital, cocky young businessman Ian (Kenny Doughty) is introduced to the audience fleeing the scene of a grisly murder, as the mysterious Isaac (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) watches on. We are swiftly informed that the victim was Tommy Carmichael, the head honcho of an inner-city crime syndicate. With cold-hearted vengeance firmly on his mind, Carmichael’s sadistic son Joseph (Mark Womack) rounds up the two suspects, pitting them against each other in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
It would be no exaggeration to suggest that almost the all of I Against I’s narrative can be plotted out from the first ten minutes by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the crime movie genre. Everything here feels dispassionately recycled, from the towering Lundgren-lookalike Isaac to Joseph’s exotic, femme fatale trophy moll. The directing trio of Cripps, Ellison and Marquand have been keen to point to their many influences (with Ridley Scott and Michael Mann featuring most prominently), but so lacking is their film in originality and quality that it often feels like a student pastiche.
With low budget efforts such as this, it’s always important to highlight the limited means that independent filmmakers often have to work with. However, 2012 has already seen a number of impressively-shot, well-scripted lo-fi efforts making the transition onto the big screen (The Harsh Light of Day and Harold’s Going Stiff to name but two). Humdrum visuals aside, the real sticking point with I Against I is undoubtedly its dead-weight script, eventually choking the life out of this indie effort from the neck down.
As a calling card for its greenhorn directors, their fatally-flawed directorial debut may well go on to prove itself as a worthwhile endeavour in years to come. However, for those expecting a competent British thriller when they purchase a cinema ticket or pick up a DVD, I Against I exudes only a complete absence of clear self-identity.