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Plastic review: Alfie Allen and Will Poulter in charmless heist thriller

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Director: Julian Gilbey; Screenwriter Julian Gilbey, Will Gilbey, Chris Howard; Starring: Ed Speleers, Alfie Allen, Will Poulter, Sebastian De Souza, Emma Rigby Running time: 102 mins; Certificate: 15

Imagine The Inbetweeners starring in a low-rent Brit imitation of American Hustle, having first undergone a collective personality transplant. Whatever's now in your head is probably still wittier and more charming than Julian Gilbey's inane heist movie Plastic, which sees four student fraudsters get in over their heads after stealing from the wrong Polish mobster.

The young cast are all appealing enough for you to overlook just what shallow archetypes they're playing - there's the brains (Ed Speleers), the arsehole (Alfie Allen), the stalwart (Will Poulter) and the sap (Sebastian De Souza), none of whom have much in the way of a backstory or, weirdly, a family. But what they do have is an impressive sideline in credit card fraud; they clone cards, steal PIN numbers and buy goods online to sell on to their fellow students.

Peppered liberally with shoehorned references to the recession, Plastic seems vaguely interested in making the case that its quartet of rascals have no choice but to turn to crime, given the bleak job prospects that await them post-graduation. "Many of you will get good degrees, but never go on to a worthwhile career," one particularly inspirational teacher tells them.

Alfie Allen, Emma Rigby, Ed Speleers and Will Poulter


But all four characters are so impossible to warm to that when they're menaced and blackmailed by Thomas Kretschmann's hammy Pole, it feels thoroughly deserved.

Though it rapidly swaps out the London suburbs for Miami beaches halfway through its running time, there's no disguising the essential grubbiness at Plastic's core. Emma Rigby brings a certain earthy charm to the role of obligatory hot girl tagalong Frankie, but she's there solely to be alternately ogled and threatened.

The more outlandish the plot gets, the better the film works as unashamed trash - the gang absconding to Miami to pull off a multi-million dollar diamond heist is enjoyably escapist nonsense, and Graham McTavish's slimy Yank jeweller is a standout.

The best you can say about Plastic is that it's relatively inoffensive - tired gender stereotyping aside - and efficient, steaming merrily towards a slow-mo action climax that's so utterly weird and gratuitous it's hard not to crack a smile. But it's a long way from Generation Y's answer to The Italian Job, a lazily scripted and predictable mess whose stars by and large deserve better.

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