Friday, 2 April 2010

No.24 : The Offence

What’s that? You want a grim 1972 talk fest with beatings and shouting aplenty? Well I think we can accommodate you there…

‘The Offence’ stars Sean Connery in a role that screams ’I’m not James Bond’. He plays Johnston a jaded British detective who has seen one nonce too many. The film opens with a blurry shot of the moustachioed Sean standing over a room full of decked coppers. What follows is a series of scenes that explain how we got there. The narrative isn’t always linear and we get lots of jumps throughout the time line and into Johnston’s past.

The police are on the trail of a kiddie fiddler who has struck twice already. After a failed stake out they are angry to learn that he’s struck a third time but at least now they have a witness. They get their man in the shape of Ian Bannen but although he was in the area and is covered in mud they still need a confession - no DNA profiling or CCTV to nail the case here, CSI followers.

After a few abortive interviews Johnston is left alone with the suspect and things predictably kick off. We don’t immediately learn what went down but we know Johnston has given the nonce a kicking and he’s sent home by his bosses. We follow Johnston home and witness an interminable half hour argument with his wife before he’s mercifully hauled back to the station after learning that the suspect has died following the ‘interrogation’.

Johnston gets a grilling from a Chief Inspector and we slowly learn that he’s snapped after attending one too many gruesome crime scenes. As he breaks down we get to see his confrontation with the suspect and things eventually swing back to the opening scene where we understand how Johnston got to be in this position.

This is another film where it’s origins on the stage are painfully obvious. Basically for your money you get Sean shouting and overacting to his wife, the Chief and the nonce. These all last for about 30 minutes and although some may see it as a powerful acting performance and a man’s soul being laid bare I saw it as all a bit dull.

Connery is always good value but his dialogue didn’t ring true and the verbal sparring often came across as clever writing rather than believable exchanges. His attempts to distance himself from Bond amounted to growing a moustache and wearing a sheepskin coat and frankly he shouldn’t have bothered - what you’d give for a witty one liner or fancy gadget in the midst of this depressing onslaught.

It was a good idea to move the narrative about and it did serve to keep your interest but I wasn’t convinced about the disintegration of Connery’s character and he seemed to go from hard nut to simpering baby in nothing flat.

I did like Ian Bannen as the smug suspect, and he’s obviously the main acting talent on show, but he didn’t quite have the menace and antagonizing qualities needed to render Connery’s character shift believable. The wife scene occupies the middle third of the film and it was hard to avoid the FF button when the moany mare went over Sean’s shortcoming from the comfort of her dressing gown once gain. She certainly didn’t have the look of a woman who could catch James Bond and looked more like a rejected Mrs Overall.

The film seems to have garnered some critical praise but some people butter up anything with edgy subject matter and a lot of shouting. For me it was a depressing experience and one I’d avoid like Ian Bannen in a playground.

THE Tag Line : No Defence For The Offence 54%

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