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Scarlett Alice Johnson,
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The film is a semi-biographical story based on the experiences of former prison guard Ronnie Thompson who spent seven years working in some of the UK's most dangerous prisons. Based on Thompson's book of the same name, the project stars James D'Arcy (Master & Commander), Noel Clarke (Kidulthood), Frank Harper (The Football Factory), Jamie Foreman (Layer Cake), Andrew Shim (This Is England) and Kate Magowan (Stardust). The story revolves around former soldier Sam Norwood who takes a job as a prison officer when he returns from Iraq and becomes exposed to the underworld of prison culture - including corrupt guards and drug trafficking. Written by
Caged animals? Unleash the narrative beast please!
If ever there was a wasted opportunity to add another Great British prison movie to the roster headed by Alan Clarke's incendiary Scum, then Screwed is it. The credentials were promising. Based on the real life memoirs of Ronnie Thompson, an ex squaddie who post a tough tour of duty joined the prison service and apparently found another kind of war on the inside, and the adaptation to screen is headed by Brit thespian bad boys Noel Clarke, Frankie Harper and James D'Arcy. Yet what unfolds for the duration of the pic is the standard raft of clichés we movie fans have seen time and time again.
There's some early promise that maybe this will have something to say as regards a returning war veteran, hints that the screenplay will have caustic asides on the British penal system and the problems inherent within our prisons, but it never delivers, instead choosing to macho everything up in such a fanciful fashion you have to wonder exactly what is actually based on facts? There's also the small matter of the fact the whole picture plays as very similar to Phil Davis' excellent 1995 football hooligan movie, i.d. Only there it was an undercover policeman getting in feral with his work, here it's a prison officer doing likewise. There's even a sex scene that is lifted straight from Davis' movie.
Having not read Thompson's book, "Screwed: The Truth About Life As A Prison officer", something which I intend to correct in the immediate future, I can't vouch for the veracity of this adaptation to screen. However, the film feels empty, like it's following a guide book written by the British press on how they "think" our prisons operate, fuelling the horror fire of what filmic adaptations over the decades have led us to believe are regular occurrences. Only Thompson knows the truth, both of his experiences and of how his book has been translated on screen, but all things considered it's a lazy same old same old film. 5/10
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