Far and away the worst film of the last twelve months, writer/co-director Noel Clarke has bitten off far more than he can chew with ’126.96.36.199′. It’s clearly supposed to be a heist thriller-cum-girl buddy movie but nothing works right – the pacing, the script, and far too much of the acting. Clarke showed huge potential with the equally ambitious but flawed ‘Kidulthood’, but this is just overblown nonsense – sexist where it doesn’t need to be, boring where it shouldn’t be, and populated by characters who just plain aren’t interesting. Why should I care about the boorish, violent, stupid thugs and freaks surrounding the four leads? Clarke never once offers any answers.
A diamond heist has taken place in Antwerp and the diamonds have made their way to London. Tamsin Egerton finds herself with them in her hands as she prepares to jump from a bridge, flanked by her friends. Rewind to see local gangster co-plotters crossing the paths of friends Emma Roberts, Ophelia Lovibond, Egerton and Shanika Warren Markland, inadvertently involving them in the conspiracy. So far so good right? Clarke’s going to tie conspirators and the girls together, delivering a gangster thriller which would put Guy Ritchie to shame? Wrong. Clarke’s script is confused, hackneyed, over-indulgent and often pointless, giving each of the girl leads a 30 minute ‘in-between’ segment, which desperately need to lead to a major pay-off on the bridge. Except they don’t. Each segment is in itself boring and unengaging. Who cares that Egerton’s parents have split up? Why does she resort to graffiti? Who cares that Lovibond gets tricked by an internet scam in New York? What does that have to do with anything else in the film? Why do we have to keep seeing so many female crotch shots? Why does Clarke have to play a complete bastard every time? And who the hell is Michelle Ryan’s character?
The component elements fail to tie together meaningfully, the girls are only ever at the periphery of the heist, and their character developments are thoroughly unconvincing and uninteresting. Even where the four story strands come together Clarke fails to explain how. It’s a sorry demonstration of how some scenes are in themselves interesting, but Clarke hasn’t given anywhere near enough thought to the overall narrative. It’s nice to see Kevin Smith cameoing though, and Markland’s lesbian character is occasionally quite funny indeed, but nothing can save this confused trainwreck of a film. Attitude on its own doesn’t make a film work, and Clarke should seriously think next time of directing someone else’s script. He’s been likened by some reviewers to Tarantino, but Tarantino’s characters have charm, he knows how to pace his films, and is a powerhouse storyteller even on his weakest productions. ’188.8.131.52′ in contrast has none of these qualities, although that alone seemed to appeal to the wasters whom I shared the screening with. Its a terrible demonstration of all that has historically been wrong with British cinema.
The three main parties want you to think that there’s no alternative to massive cuts to public services, in response to the economic crisis caused by unregulated ‘casino’ banking. The thing is though that’s simply not true. Watch the video and have a look at the website, before making your decision about who to vote for on May 6th. Do you think we should suffer because of the bankers’ behaviour, or should transactions they make be subject to a tax which they’d barely notice, which could in turn balance the budget?