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Midlands Review - Tony

By midlandsmovies, Aug 10 2017 07:56PM

Tony (2017) Dir. Jack Veasey

Tony is a new film from Coventry filmmaker Jack Veasey who throws blood, sweat and tears at the screen as we follow a violent week in the life of the eponymous “hero” of the movie.

The "hero" is Tony, a local boxer who has a variety of demons and family problems that bubble to the surface in the most destructive way possible. The director introduces us to Tony via Paul Greengrass-style handheld camera work as he protects a girl from further assault but in doing so gets on the wrong side of a known criminal family which we later find has links to his own past.

A dishevelled Tony then begins to realise his predicament and is shown drinking and drug-taking before heading to the gym to hit out his frustrations on a punch-bag.

Framing the narrative around a week we see each day ratchet up the stakes for the loner whose quiet demeanour is reflected in the cool washed out blue colour-grading of the film.

Although a scene looking at old photos and drinking from a decanter had an 80s clichéd burnt-out cop vibe, the filmmaker tries to avoid too many stereotypes. The film has more in common with Drive and Only God Forgives – especially the focus on hands and bloody knuckles – than it does with the meat-headed Cobra.

That said, as we uncover tales of an abusive family back-story the film does shuffle from quiet introspection to explosive violence with some great fight choreography. On a local level action can be very hard to do on a smaller budget but Tony is a film that goes further than most with well designed fights from a bare-knuckle boxing match to kidnap and torture through to domestic violence.

Not for the squeamish, there are plenty of ruthless head-butts, stabbings and punches thrown around the screen with the director showing a skill for filming fights. The movie doesn’t underestimate the need for getting the placing of characters correct in order for an audience to understand where they are in relation to one another. This can be somewhat lacking in modern blockbusters – I’m talking to you Michael Bay! Here though, the simplicity actually helps the film deliver a knock-out punch.

If there was one area for improvement, it would be the slower sections have slight pacing issues – a drug-taking scene took an age to deliver its inevitable “space out” – whilst I would have personally preferred a flashback to the family’s woes rather than the background story delivered in dialogue. It’s a fine line between measured and ‘plodding’ but I think the film just stays on the right side to deliver satisfying character moments.

But these are minor issues which are overcome by the weighty action. The filmmaker also shows the damage these battles can cause – both physically and mentally – as Tony’s doubts are contrasted with his explosive temper. Richard Summers Calvert gives a tormented performance as the protagonist who can deliver the requisite anguish as well as the volatile stunt work needed. Special mention too for a solid supporting cast including Marc Ozall, George Wills, Michael Muyunda, Andre Pierre, Therica Wilson-Read and Carey Thring as a variety of friends, foes and family.

In the end, mixing a dollop of internal angst with a big helping of brutality, Tony is a film that wants an audience to immerse themselves so deep into the character that they too have blood on their hands. And for genre fans and those wishing to experience a dark and bleak exploration, they will find many pleasures during their week with the terrorising Tony.

Mike Sales

Midlands Movies

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