Imagine how you would feel if an escaped convicted serial killer took you hostage and bound you to the front seat of his car, and began driving you to a remote and desolate area.
Imagine if on the journey you watched him brutally kill three men, each of whom would have been your last vestige of hope for escaping your captor’s wicked clutches. Imagine that every time you tried to escape he’d either hold a rusty blade to your throat, or lock you in a metal cabinet with the skeleton of his last victim, still in its school uniform.
Well, all this truly would be a joyous and merry road-trip when compared to the reality that is watching Deviation, which is essentially a tedious simulation of being trapped in a car with Danny Dyer for 86 minutes. Doing all of those things. As well as his signature tawkin’ like a geeza throughout. Bladdy aufentic, mate.
Dyer does the required snarling, lusting and yearning all with the same idiotic grin on his Acting Face when he occasionally remembers to pretend to be a disturbed homicidal maniac for a few minutes. Most of time, he is just a rather cranky East End cabbie. He delivers his lines with characteristic thoughtful subtlety: “Behave yourself or I’ll give you an Algerian smile…nobody survives it, fuckin’ nobody”, he snarls, grinning like how he presumes a crazed-killer-type would, making you want to wipe the smile off his hammy little face, Algerian or otherwise.
Beaming away, he switches nimbly to sinister mode, asking his captor if she wants “a little treat” from the petrol station. “What choclit d’you want?” he asks, like a moron. Oh just a Crunchie for me, Danny, and a mouthful of diesel for you. And he can do sensitive, too: “friendships, relationships, it’s never forever…” Which, to be fair, is surely an inimitable and heart-breaking truth WHEN YOU’RE DANNY DYER.
But Dyer-bashing is too easy, and his character, Frankie Norton, does have a way with knives, so he is perhaps best left unprovoked. Anna Walton plays Frankie’s prey, the unfeasibly calm and level-headed nurse, Amber. She just sits there quietly, almost as if she actually wants to sit beside Danny Dyer for longer than 13 seconds, slightly rolling her eyes as she is roughly clamped to a car-seat by a bloodthirsty stranger, and occasionally saying things like “just fuck off, Frank, all right?” as if she’s just returned from a long day at A&E and he has berated her for not remembering the milk.
The setting is predictably Gritty™. Set in London during the early hours, there are lots of bins inexplicably full of fire, those common fox corpses and human skulls you often find in suburban backstreets, and a scowling multitude of hoodies, night-workers and drug barons deaf to the victim’s pleas.
All of Amber’s escape plans are ludicrously scuppered. She writes a note and chucks that on the road. A mysterious white van man shoves it down a drain. She escapes, twice, but gets out of breath and needs to rearrange her hair, and anyway, it’s embarrassing to go knocking on people’s doors in a residential road, so had better not. So he catches her again. Her phone is thrown out of the window – cue a traumatic close-up of Blackberry remnants (Curve, White) scattered across the tarmac. Finally, the police corner them, but then a motorcyclist who has a penchant for Frankie’s “work” knocks the policeman out cold, and apparently pepper spray doesn’t really work in films.
Ultimately, the audience is torn between pitying each actor for being given such a weak script and wearisome plotline to work with, and silently praying that they will finish each other off.