DIR: Dan Turner WRI: Dan Turner PRO: Dean Fisher DOP: Richard Swingle
ED: Richard Alderson DES: Mickaela Trodden Cast: Ashley Thomas, David
Harewood, Michelle Ryan, Peter Mullan
A rapper by trade, Ashley ‘Bashy’ Thomas is, like Plan B (Ben Drew)
and Adam Deacon before him, also a rising British actor, and The Man
Inside sees him taking on lead duty for the first time following
supporting turns in The Veteran and Noel Clarke’s 126.96.36.199.
In writer-director Dan Turner’s third feature film, following
Experiment and Stormhouse, Thomas plays Clayton Murdoch, a young man
who seeks to distance himself from the gangster past of his father
(David Harewood) by channelling his aggression and anger into boxing.
His boxing trainer is Gordon Sinclair (played by the reliably intense
Peter Mullan), who took Clayton under his wing following his father’s
imprisonment, and helped him to avoid falling into the world of crime
and violence that seems particularly prevalent in this area of London.
However, the arrival of Gordon’s daughter, Alexia (Michelle Ryan), an
old schoolmate of his, on top of some threatening behaviour towards
his sister and brother by local thugs, starts to send Clayton
spiralling out of control, and down the same path that his father
travelled many years before. Question is, will he resort to the same
murderous deeds that he witnessed his father engage in or will he see
the light at the end of the tunnel?
Boosted by a strong central performance from Thomas, and good
supporting turns from Mullan and Jenny Jules, as the matriarch of the
Murdoch household, The Man Inside is a well-intentioned and finely
crafted, if not wholly satisfying, urban drama. It is tough and gritty
in all the right places, but the air of familiarity proves to be its
undoing in the end.
The fact that Thomas, as well as Ryan, worked with Noel Clarke on
188.8.131.52 is perhaps not entirely coincidental, as The Man Inside is
similar in ways to the Clarke-scripted Kidulthood and the
Clarke-directed Adulthood, which featured the vocal stylings of Thomas
on its soundtrack.
This in itself is not a major problem, but other contrivances, such as
Ryan’s ‘tart with a heart’ female love interest, take away from some
of the more admirable elements of the film.
There is every possibility that The Man Inside will find a respectable
audience upon its release, and those who do see it will find some form
of emotional resonance in the film’s finale. In his short and
feature-length films to date (as well as in TV series Girl Number 9),
Turner has proven to be an efficient filmmaker, who doesn’t mind
trying his hand at a variety of genres.
Unfortunately, the genre that The Man Inside belongs is one that is in
need of some fresh ideas, and despite the best efforts of all
involved, his film does fall short of providing them.
Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
The Man Inside is released on 27th July 2012