2016 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

Raymond Chandler comes to West London when hard-drinking gumshoe Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed) investigates the disappearance of a young prostitute. A series of clues leads him to a hotel where he finds her prospective client - a prominent Pakistani businessman - dead on the bed. Further probing takes Tommy to an Islamic Youth group and things are complicated further still with the arrival of an old flame (Billie Piper). Noirish Brit thriller from director Pete Travis (Dredd).

Director

  • Pete Travis

Cast

  • Riz Ahmed

  • Billie Piper

  • James Floyd

  • Cush Jumbo

  • Roshan Seth

  • Hannah Rae

Review

West London gets the American noir treatment in this British thriller focusing on a chain-smoking, bourbon-necking private eye (Riz Ahmed).

When Tommy Akhtar (Ahmed) is recruited by high-class escort Melody (Cush Jumbo) to find out what's happened to her missing Russian flatmate he doesn't find her...but does discover the corpse of her Pakistani businessman client in a Mayfair hotel.

Further delving links the dead john to Tommy's childhood buddy-turned property developer Haafiz (James Floyd) while the trail also detours to take in his old flame Shelley (Billie Piper), a single mum employed as a glossy meeter'n'greeter at a swanky hotel.

It's the classic neon-drenched, neo-noir set-up except Dredd director Pete Travis wrong-foots the viewer with the introduction of a contemporary strand - a radicalised Muslim community group determined to rid the streets of drugs.

There's probably a bit too much going on: constant flashbacks sketch in Tommy and Shelley's troublesome relationship, a sympathetic London cop has little to do and the shadowy presence of American spooks threatens to over-complicate matters.

However, the ever-impressive Ahmed holds things together, providing the staple noir voiceover and affectingly conveying the seedy existence of a down-at-heel P.I. whose conscience quietly obliges him to take care of his ailing dad.

Filmed around the poorer, northern end of West London's Portobello Road, an authentic street-level grit is maintained with the only recognisable landmark not the customary Eye or Big Ben but the oft-reviled sixties tower block Trellick Tower.

Street sharp and smart, it's nice slice of homegrown noir.

Tim Evans