By midlandsmovies, Oct 21 2019 10:45AM
Directed by Jack Veasey
Three hooded people are paraded into a field by armed captors in an exciting opening to new action drama Number 23 from Midlands director Jack Veasey.
A Western-inspired steel guitar soundtrack plays as one of them is callously shot and the two survivors (Andre Pierre and Becki Lloyd) are told by Dr. James Fisher (an intimidating Jason Segade) that they are now simply numbered slaves before being taken into a makeshift cell alongside other captives.
Then a white supremacist in the prison stokes a violent encounter with two black prisoners and Veasey throws us into a brutal but haphazard fight.
Although slightly underlit in these prison scenes, the director does however try to create a great mood of secrecy with dark corners and harsh shadows. Then a classic action-flick monologue is delivered to fill in the story blanks about a war which segregated the population.
A line of dialogue about “an army of superhumans” garnered a bit of a guffaw from this reviewer but the film sticks to and delivers its 80s-influenced action beats. Inmate Number 23 (Pierre) is pulled from his incarceration and is injected with an unknown serum that our villain hopes to give him ‘supernatural’ powers.
Later, as a military drum march plays, all the captives are brought back outside as a brutal henchmen (Dominic Thompson) berates them, ensuring their life is as hard as possible. But the group put their differences aside and plan to escape their predicament before it gets worse for all of them.
Overpowering their guards, the film moves into a gun-filled conclusion with some decent practical effects, more hand-to-hand combat and some bloody punch-ups.
Andre-Pierre as the eponymous Number 23 is great and the two dark performances from Segade and Thompson are a fun over-the-top portrayal of the classic central villain and henchman dynamic.
The film seemed mostly influenced by a similar societal breakdown as seen in Children of Men and Veasey has definitely brought some decent action chops to his range of filmmaking talents. And although the slightly silly human experiment storyline was a bit clichéd, overall Number 23 is a satisfying mix of grounded sci-fi and action with a tiny dollop of more serious race-relations themes. Recommended.