Jun 16, 2023
Chris Gainsbury, Shaun Cooper, Paul Handforth
Michael L. Knight, Maria Pazouros, Karl Greenwood
Right from the off in Corruption II the heat is on. We've got a stooge bundled up and bloody in the back seat and there's a car full of heavies trying to make him sing like a canary. As we're led seamlessly through the streets of Manchester we pass a convenience store and slide into an opening credits sequence which makes us feel more like we're on the West Coast of America rather than in the mean streets of the North.
We're now following Michael (Knight), our protagonist, who's on his way home after a hard day and has just picked up some wine to go with dinner. It's always the way, isn't it, in these revenge driven sequels? You just want to sit down and have a quiet evening with your missus and the past comes barging in through the front door in the form of a hellbent psychopath. Oh well, such is life.
Actually writers Chris Gainsbury, Shaun Cooper and Paul Handforth are a bit subtler about it than just barging straight in, instead allowing the past to be invited over the threshold in the form of best friend, former colleague and current agent, Alex (Greenwood) who funnily enough is investigating the disappearance of another current agent from his never knowingly named outfit who may or may not have been bundled bleeding into the back of a car.
Soon enough Alex's sniffing around gets him into trouble and he's quickly taken out of the picture, leaving Michael tangled back up in the world he thought he'd left behind and his wife Keira (Pazouros) taken hostage as bait. Oh, and this time they did come in through the front door.
So what we've got from our three writers, with Chris Gainsbury also as director, is a pretty standard revenge thriller. The bad guys want to get at the good guy; the good guy thought he was out of all of this stuff; the bad guys press him; and voila a rescue mission/showdown is on the cards. Boom.
But obviously there's got to be backstory, right? It is called Corruption II after all. And yes, if you dig for it, there's a short eight minute film called Corruption that you can watch, which has the same sort of vibe about it but with a much softer, sympathetic tone. However, the one or two black and white flashbacks we get here are all we really need for this level of plotting.
There are plenty of good things in Corruption II to keep you entertained, especially the low-fi cool of Jensen Forshaw's electrobeat soundtrack and a whole slew of shots which show that Gainsbury has a good eye. In amongst it though is a whole bunch of everyday dialogue that sucks out the drama, which is at times matched up with amateur delivery. Most of the cast gives a pretty strong attempt at their characters, with the bad guys feeling especially bad in their portrayal, but unfortunately Knight is just not a leading man, nor an action star, and a lot of the film rests on his shoulders.
For an 80-odd minute film that's a second attempt at a thing that might actually have worked better first time around, Corruption II at least shows what this production team can do, and there are positives to be taken away. Being released, however, in 2016 with no sign of anything since, it may be that Corruption III is not on the cards. Perhaps if the production team behind this tried something new though, it might prove to be not half bad.