Sunday, 3 June 2012

This is the review that I submitted for April 2012's edition of 'Venturer' :-

Our journey along the series of The Ninth Man continues with the third story, Ties That Bind Us. After the previous episodes I have to say I was rather looking forward to watching this, and finding out what happens to Kenny, Robert, Michelle and Lindsay.
We get off to a good start, returning as we do to the place where the previous episode left off with my good self as Reet and Chris Lovin (Ben Johnson) leaving Kenny Cooper (Alec Harkness) tied up, while we go off to engage in some intimidation. It had been raining, making my '.. and it was turning out to be such a nice day' line rather fitting. If it's one thing you can rely on in the UK, it's that at some point, it will rain.
I have to say I'm less than convinced by the 'sherbet dip' scene. Maybe I'm too used to seeing Tim playing comical characters, but I was expecting a play to the camera and some jazz hands at any moment!
The heavy boys, in the form of Ben Johnson and Will Gammon, carrying their implausibly long poles set on Jameson and Michelle, hitting the latter (Sarah Miatt) around the face with a pipe. This confrontation is lacking the pace and menace of previous such scenes in the series. James' reaction is rather flat for someone who's just seen his sister- in-law beaten round the head with a
metal pipe. Was it rehearsal, or lack of it, that killed the confidence in execution of this scene?
Fight scenes are, by their nature complicated beasts, you want to get the point across, but you also don't (really) want the actors to get hurt. There are several examples in the story of why such scenes take place, but they must be choreographed skilfully, and rehearsed over and over, to take the best of the situation, and get the best shot.
Aside from the punch sounds which I have always detested, the sound while Will and Ben walk through the warehouse is distracting. It's a well shot piece though, I do like the wandering through a poorly lit warehouse. It's not always clear
however how or why one scene links to another, which surprises me as this story was written by Jordan Howard, the architect of the series. It doesn't make sense why Will's character decides to finish the job of bludgeoning the boxer to death, but it is Ben's character, that reveals this to Jameson.

10There's a bit of me that thinks that filming Ben driving, whilst on the phone, in what I can assume is his works van is not a brilliant idea, but I think my objections aren't to do with the production. Still, nice bit of advertising for them.
The previously unconvincing attack on Sarah's character leaves an equally unconvincing lack of injury to her face. I'm pretty sure that if I was hit round the face with a six foot metal pipe I would have some sort of war wound to show for it, and It doesn't make sense why she is let go. Now, I know about other elements of the series that I have yet to review, and that there may be explanations for all these things at a later date, but rather than come off intriguing and mysterious, it just judders and jars and breaks up the previously excellent story telling I've seen in the other episodes.
I did really think though, that after chucking Sarah out of the van, that she was going to get run over as Ben reversed right next to her, but this doesn't happen. She just gets up and hobbles off.
I did like the filming of Ben through the reflection in the mirror, but again the scene felt like we were missing a step. Reet is waiting for a call, presumably from Chris (Ben Johnson)... although Reet is the one that makes the call in the end, while Chris has a weirdly cosy chat in the front of the van with Jameson. Maybe despite the duct-tape on his mouth Jameson was able to call 'shotgun'? It also doesn't make
sense either for Reet to shout at Kenny Cooper to 'get out of his place' while he's tied to a chair.
I'd forgotten that before all of this, Lindsay had been kidnapped, so when Michelle (Sarah Miatt) tells James Johnson (John Hampton) that she's just 'took off' it makes even less sense than him saying to
call the police, or that he already has, when he did and had been told there was nothing the police could do. As if things weren't confusing enough!
I have to say that Kenny's line 'the police saw him this morning, and the bits that they found were definitely not fine...' did make me laugh, but mostly the emotions I am left with after watching this story are disappointment, and confusion. The script, or at least the editing, doesn't gel together and create the smooth seamless story that I'd become accustomed to. The acting doesn't really show up any shining performances, though if anyone had it, it was Harkness. Most of the other 'action', if you can call it that was unconvincing and poorly conveyed from a directing and acting point of view. I really do hope that the next story shows a return to the excellent form I love so much.

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