Directed by Luke Armstrong
Starring Katie Goldfinch, Sol Heras, Brian Bovell and Johnny Sachon
Short film review by Chris Olson
In the same style as Spooks or the Bourne franchise, Luke Armstrong’s short film The Service is an intricate and stylish thriller, boasting some daring filmmaking and excellent performances even if the storyline feels all too familiar.
Katie Goldfinch plays Jenny, an MI6 agent who becomes the unwitting victim of a complex case when she goes to pick up her colleague one morning. On the unassuming suburban streets Jenny waits in her car calling a phone which will not be answered, as it lies inside a house where a bloodbath has recently occurred. Investigating the crime scene, Jenny finds several dead bodies, including that of her colleague, and is then further surprised by the arrival of Alex (Sol Heras) another agent who seems dubious to say the least.
Bring on the CSI squad and superior officer Peterson (Brian Bovell) who hope to get to the bottom of the killings, whilst Jenny is stalked by a suspicious looking blonde man (Johnny Sachon) who could hold the answer to this captivating crime.
With soft, slow zooms to begin with and some impressive high angle framing, director Luke Armstrong (who also wrote the film) pulls out all the stops in his short film, which is visually excellent. The use of lighting is particular arresting; during one scene where Jenny is flooded with natural light pointing her gun at Alex coming unannounced through the door being a memorable highlight, as well as a great sequence between Goldfinch and Sachon with a London river bank backdrop.
Other strengths include the brilliant music, from Vince Cox, adding a tension and fraught atmosphere which captures the tone of the story and the intrigue of the characters.
The cocktail is slightly spoiled though, by a wooden script which hunkers along in certain scenes. Given that this is only a short film of around 10 minutes, some bits of dialogue felt bulky and tedious, especially considering the household nature of the genre which demands originality in order to stand out. That being said, special mention must be given to Goldfinch, in particular her more kinetic sequences which were far more believable and entertaining. Bovell also delivers the best performance of the lot, seeming to cope with the script the best.
It certainly won’t feel like anything new, but Armstrong’s film is definitely exciting - if only from the point of view of being bold behind the camera. There is a confidence which emanates from his filming which is sadly lost in the writing, but if presented with the right story, or even if The Service had more time to flourish, we could be looking at a very promising UK filmmaker.
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