Screenwriters: Alex De Rakoff
Starring: Tamer Hassan, Danny Dyer, Brenda Blethyn, 50 Cent, Blake Ritson, Bronson Webb, Monet Mazur
Running Time: 90 mins
A decade after Run Lola Run crashed into cinemas, British writer-director Alex De Rakoff gives the formula a shot of testosterone in Dead Man Running (produced by fancy-footed England shirts Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole). The premise is basically the same: our hero is in a race against time to raise a pile of cash for a gangster who'll otherwise plug his nearest and dearest. Sadly, De Rakoff (who brought us the lame Orlando Bloom comedy The Calcium Kid) doesn't have the feel for pace or the flair for invention that set Tom Twyker apart from the crowd. And it doesn't help that our leading man has all the charm and agility of an actual dead man.
Up until this point, Tamer Hassan has mostly played the supporting muscle in films like Layer Cake and The Football Factory, where he featured alongside badge-wearing cockney geezer Danny Dyer. This time Dyer plays the comedy sidekick - a mouthy sort called Bing - to Hassan's po-faced ex-con Nick. But it's only in the scenes that Hassan shares with 50 Cent (as local kingpin Mr Thigo) that Nick almost appears lifelike. He very nearly looks alarmed when Mr Thigo informs him that he only has 24 hours in which to repay a £100,000 debt, or else have to scrape his dear mum's brains off the walls. The only reason we don't want that to happen is that Mum is played in fabulously impudent style by Brenda Blethyn.
What Nick doesn't know is that Mr Thigo doesn't want the money. He merely wants to set an example to the rest of his dodgy clientele and De Rakoff needs to find some way to fill out the 90-minute runtime. The film ends up being a series of cartoonish episodes where Nick and Bing come up with ever more ridiculous ways to get their hands on the dosh. First Nick does a spot of bare-knuckle fighting at the back of a pub, then dabbles in some drug-running and eventually gets hired for a contract kill. Nick attacks each task with stoicism because that's the only face he can successfully pull off. Dyer does at least provide some comic relief, but that has less to do with the naff wisecracks as much as the knowing glint in his eye. It's as if he knows the film is a bunch of sweaty pants, but hey, if you can't beat 'em with a bicycle chain...
Although the money-making schemes are increasingly outlandish, there is no mounting sense of peril for Nick and Bing. The few real moments of suspense exist between Mum and the gunman who holds her hostage at her council flat, played by the ever sinister Phil Davis (aka that bloke off the telly who looks a bit like Albert Steptoe). Mum is bound to a wheelchair, but she's also a live-wire who engages her captor in a bit of psychological gameplaying and that might be enough to warrant a film by itself. It's just a shame that De Rakoff resorts to a cheap gag to resolve their head-to-head. He's also too quick on the trigger, completely robbing the film of tension as Nick (pointlessly) tries to save her in the big finale. Without a steady build of tension, 90 minutes ends up feeling like two hours. More like Dead Man Plodding.
> What do you think of the movie? Share your views