If ever a Wazthere wasn’t

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - MICHAEL DWYER

WAZ Di­rected by Tom Shank­land. Star­ring Stel­lan Skars­gård, Melissa Ge­orge, Selma Blair 18 cert, Cineworld/UCI Tal­laght, Dublin, 104 min

RE­CALL­ING Mar­garet Thatcher’s opin­ion that there is no such thing as so­ci­ety, the se­rial killer on the ram­page in Tom Shank­land’s de­but fea­ture is driven by the dis­il­lu­sioned view that there is no love. If you can imag­ine Saw crossed with So­phie’s Choice, you may be­gin to get the mea­sure of this un­spar­ingly vi­o­lent po­lice pro­ce­dural thriller.

“There will be pain,” de­clares the killer as yet an­other vic­tim is sub­jected to a cru­elly sadis­tic fate. As a de­tec­tive (Stel­lan Skars­gård) in­ves­ti­gates the case with his in­tu­itive new part­ner (Melissa Ge­orge) they note that what ap­pears to be “WAZ” is carved on the tor­tured bod­ies of the vic­tims. The cen­tral char­ac­ter in that word is delta, they find, and W-Delta-Z is an al­ge­braic equa­tion that sup­pos­edly proves there is no al­tru­ism in na­ture.

There is pre­cious lit­tle of it in this grim, bleak movie set in a city that is hell on earth, a world of squalor, de­prav­ity, ad­dic­tion and in­hu­man­ity. The film is set in the US but was shot in Belfast – so ef­fec­tively that this in­for­ma­tion comes as a sur­prise in the clos­ing cred­its – along with lo­ca­tions in Man­hat­tan and Brook­lyn.

Play­ing an ar­che­typal hard­boiled, world-weary cop, Swedish ac­tor Skars­gård ap­pears to have mod­elled his ac­cent on Clint East­wood at his most grav­elvoiced, but he is far more ef­fec­tive than the English ac­tors play­ing Amer­i­cans in the movie.

Hav­ing as­saulted our senses with graphic gore in its early se­quences, and hav­ing added the au­ral tor­ture of some in­dis­tinct di­a­logue, WAZ steadily builds in at­mos­phere in the sec­ond half as it fol­lows a twist­ing course to reve­la­tion and res­o­lu­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.