Solid but flawed benefits from good performances in the main
When a "bright young boy" is stabbed to death in a rough London council estate it brings police officer Joe Stephens back into the world he left as soon as he could when he was younger. Serving as a "way in" for the police, Stephens quickly learns what the rest of the community have been saying that one particularly group of boys was responsible. Using his local knowledge to put pressure on them, Stephens starts to see cracks in the tough facades of the group and in particular sees weakness and potential in the eyes of the girlfriend of one of the suspects.
Fallout was marketed as an "issues" film on channel 4 as it was shown as part of a season of films on knife crime in the UK (currently a very hot topic in the tabloids). However truth be told it is much more of a drama that happens to have the issue as its foundation and spark. The film is not so much about the issue of knives or about "whodunit" but more about the characters and their lives as they react to a violent crime that they are all involved with in some way. It is not a perfect film as a result because it is not strong enough as a character piece to be its all and, in regards the crime investigation and solution, it does feel a little bit simplified and (at the end) pat. At times the writing/dialogue is a little bit obvious and we do occasionally have characters spelling stuff out to us but yet it is still engaging as a piece.
A massive part of this I think is down to the cast, all of whom are quite excellent. One user on this site (I hesitate to call him what I called him when I read his comment) said that Mbatha-Raw was poor here because she was, he noticed on her profile, a middle-class girl remote from the character and world she was put in here. Of course this is different from, say, Christian Bale, who really is a millionaire playboy who fights crime under an alias which is why that role was never a stretch for him. You see my point I'm sure but to see just how wrong richdavt was all you need to do is watch her here. Free of the touch of puppy fat she had in Doctor Who (and looking a lot better for it), her Shanice was conflicted, wounded and frightened while also trying to fit into the hard reality that is hers. It is a great performance very convincing and engaging; those suggesting she was not "street" enough have perhaps failed to understand her character. James is given a character that is a little messy but he works pretty well with it admittedly carried by his good screen presence in each scene. Ameen (Kidulthood and Dis/Connected) is solid in a character that perhaps he has done enough times in one form or another, but Mnene is more impressive at showing layers with the slightest thing that betray him and I would preferred the script to have offered him more on that line.
Fallout is not perfect but it is solid and benefits from roundly good performances that lift the material. There is a line in it like "this isn't a war war's end", which discerning viewers will immediately recognise as also being in HBO's The Wire and this connection did make me realise that Fallout was going for this type of product. Not so much an "issue-movie", this paints situations and characters within the frame of a crime narrative; sadly it is not quite as strong as it could have been (or anywhere near the quality of The Wire) but it is good enough to be worth a look.
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