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Bad Guys indie film review

★★★

Directed by: #JackSambrook

Written by: #JackSambrook, #WillUnsworth

Starring: #JackSambrook, #WillUnsworth

Film Review by: Darren Tilby



Jack Sambrook’s criminal road trip movie – made in the heart of Sussex and on a budget of just £200 – is a relatively typical example of the genre. This is both the film’s greatest strength as well as its greatest weakness: Bad Guys achieves the same as many of its big-budget brethren, and that’s an impressive feat. Unfortunately, it also means that despite this being a competently made movie, it’s predictable and unoriginal.


Gaz (Jack Sambrook) and Cal (Will Unsworth) are your typical criminal underlings; two childhood friends, living in the south of England, whose lives haven’t turned out as either of them had dreamed. And they spend their time going door-to-door threatening clients and collecting money owed to their boss. Unfortunately, Cal is a loose cannon and has been known to rough clients up a little too much. Bad Guys takes place after one of these visits goes very badly wrong, and sees Gaz and Cal go on a road trip up North (“To the North”) to dispose of the fallout.


Bad Guys takes place entirely with these two characters and almost wholly from Gaz’s car. So it’s crucial, particularly for a film with a runtime of 70 minutes, for the characters to have good on-screen chemistry, as well as to be empathetic. This is something the film does really well and having both leads (Sambrook and Unsworth) co-write the movie, I think, has really helped with this: it makes the dialogue feel more natural (even if some of it doesn’t quite land right). And it allows each actor to inject their character with their own unique inflexion. And, as you may expect, both Sambrook and Unsworth give strong performances in the lead roles that they’ve essentially created. Credit where credit is due, there are some surprisingly heartfelt moments here, despite the occasional crassness of the characters on screen.


Video quality is considerably better than you may expect, given the film’s limited budget, and Sambrook’s direction and editing are superb throughout. But it’s thanks to Rowan Holford’s sublime cinematography that we’re able to enjoy almost every visual facet of this movie entirely. Sound design, however, is where the film falters slightly, as it’s generally quite poor - with the dialogue, in particular, sounding a little tinny or reverberative in places. That being said, it’s totally acceptable, and I didn’t encounter any problems with actually hearing any of the dialogue.


The movie’s main issue, however, is its predictability. There’s a little more going on with this trip than first meets the eye, but, and particularly if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll likely see this twist coming very early on in the film. There’s just nothing remarkable about the movie; nothing (other than the characters themselves, maybe) to set it apart from any other. But, all said and done, what the filmmakers have achieved here with a nearly non-existent budget is really quite impressive. There’s much to enjoy here and a lot to keep the viewer invested in the film, not least the characters, the bond they share, and the predicament they now find themselves in. Bad Guys is well worth your time.