Jackdaw – REVIEW

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Jackdaw - a gritty North East set thriller

The latest low budget British independent thriller is Jackdaw an abbreviation of lead character’s name Jack Dawson who must be grateful that he was never christened Mike Hunter. Jack (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a former motocross champion who ran off to join the forces before returning to his North East home to care for his Downs Syndrome brother Simon (Leon Harrop). The brothers only have each other with their mother having passed away and both are estranged from their father.

Jack takes a job from an underworld source to recover a package of drugs from a buoy in a windfarm in a terrific opening sequence as he paddles a canoe  through the huge wind turbine propellers only to find two jet skis pursuing him when he surfaces. And there’s no let up when he gets to land where he is chased on his dilapidated motocross by a gun wielding horseman. Having escaped from his pursuers he returns home only to find Simon has seemingly been kidnapped and Jack, over the course of the night, goes looking for him believing that the local drug kingpin Silas (Joe Blakemore) is responsible. He soon finds that it is all about to get a lot  more complicated and life threateningly dangerous.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen makes a convincingly conflicted action star and there’s good support from Jenna Colman as an old flame. There’s a raft of decent characters too with Thomas Turgoose as druggie raver Craig dragged along against his will to assist Jack and Vivienne Acheampong in a small role as owner of a grimy gym populated by her phenomenally hench gang each looking like cling film stuffed with walnuts and if there’s ever a spin off film character hers is it. Joe Balkemore’s Silas is something of a caricature all bleached, permed bob haircut, smiley face T-shirt and  stone washed jeans and looking like he is trapped in 1989.

Written and directed by Jamie Childs who has an impressive array of TV credits that includes Willow and Doctor Who but this is far darker. Set in the North East this paints the area in a far different light than that era of dark satanic mills (or Heather as Paul McCartney often called her) that acts as an ominous background to the action with bleak industrial landscape home to crime and warehouse raves underlined by a stark electronic score punctuated by some great songs.  With the rave scene playing a prominent role in the film it does seem a little out of time by thirty years or so and though there are several great tracks the era is confused by early and awesome 1992 Prodigy track ‘Jericho’ that plays out over the end credits but earlier in the film we have the tribal drums of Adam and the Ants 1980 hit Kings of the Wild frontier from what  were two very different eras in music. But that aside even if the story is a little pedestrian  Jackdaw is an is an impressively shot thriller.

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Here’s the Jackdaw trailer….

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