Shank may be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Indeed if there was any justice in the world, it would be incarcerated in concrete and dumped in the Atlantic Ocean with a warning label that reads: “Warning: poisonous cinematic waste”.
Director Mo Ali has taken some crap themes, crap actors and a crap script and somehow managed to create an unholy abomination that is much much worse that the sum of its parts.
In the dystopian future London of 2015, so-called “feral youth” has over spilled into the streets and the city is run by gang violence. One such gang is the Paperchaserz made up of sensible tough guy Rager, his younger brother Junior, and assorted delinquents Kickz, Craze and Sweet Boy. After Rager gets stabbed by a rival gang, Junior assumes control and begins a city-wide search for his brother’s killers.
The plot is paper-thin and goes nowhere. The gang performs tasks for one group after another ostensibly to gather information which will lead them to the gang they’re looking for, only to be told like Super Mario that their princess is in another castle; it’s repetitive, boring and derivative.
Every character is violent, misogynist or just plain irritating; they do nothing to endear themselves to the audience. Sweet Boy is particularly irritating – he’s the lover of the group and as such feels the need to strip half naked every time the camera’s on him and spout witless drivel – he’s the kind of character you’d like to uppercut on sight. Not that spouting witless drivel is confined to his character – there isn’t a poignant or intelligent line in the entire film.
Lines, styles and shots are plagiarised from other more successful movies which it’s clear Shank is trying to emulate – Lock Stock, Scarface, Kidulthood, Fish Tank – pretty much every urban or gangster drama ever made is ripped off and stuffed into the mix.
The filming itself is no better – it’s shot in a distracting choppy style mixed together with a bewildering collage of computer-game graphics and dream sequences which serve to make the film ugly and confusing. Whole sections seem to be an excuse to cut five minutes’ worth of music video into the film – something which adds nothing and just pads out the length.
Worse still, the film doesn’t have anything to say about the dystopian future which it portrays.
This charmless waste of celluloid is a teenager’s idea of good film: badly filmed, directed, written and acted. On top of this it sends out a reprehensible message by glorifying the worst aspects of thug life – drug use, violence and even dog-fighting (appallingly depicted with beat ‘em up style energy bars).
It also has a completely anti-climactic conclusion – a clichéd fight in a stairwell in which Junior gets the revenge he wanted all along without having to take any responsibility for his actions. The good guys win, everybody goes home and the audience demands its money back.
Making a film worse than this would actually be a challenge. Avoid it like the plague and don’t even think about seeing it, not even out of curiosity. I’d rather be shanked.