Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Montana: Revenge Serbian-Style on the Streets of London
good for a lad to aspire to a career. Young Montana thought he was apprenticing
to be a drug dealer, but when his bosses double-cross him, the adolescent
learns the assassin’s trade instead. Revenge will be had by mentor and protégé alike
in Mo Ali’s Montana (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in limited release.
was a Serbian assassin during the Balkan Wars, but there were things even he
wouldn’t do. He tried to escape with his wife and son, but they were captured
by an especially vicious militia leader. Dimitrije escaped, but not before his
family was killed by the man now known as the London drug kingpin Lazarus. Bent
on revenge, Dimitrije has tracked Lazarus’s operations, taking out pawns at strategic
moments. Thus far he has spared Montana.
wants to rise through the ranks of the gang, like the henchmen he looks up to.
He no longer attends school, but he still has one straight friend, Jess, a
prospective girlfriend. Yet, unbeknownst to him, it was Lazarus’s men who
killed his father. Therefore, they consider it only a matter of time before
they have to rub him out as well. That day will come sooner rather than later. Needless
to say, he survives long enough to hook up with Dimitrije, who will become his
personal Miyagi for assassination and urban warfare.
So maybe Montana is not blazingly original, following in the tradition of Leon, the Professional and scores of
deadly apprentice films, but the execution is impressively crisp. There are
some nifty action sequences and the payback is duly cathartic. It might be a
B-movie, but Lars Mikkelsen deserves credit for bringing his A-game. As Dimitrije,
he gives the film tragic gravitas, as well as borderline psychotic tendencies.
Young McKell David also shows tremendous promise in the title role. Even when
Montana is acting out, he is relatively easy to take. He also develops some
appealing ambiguous chemistry Sinead Michael’s Jess.
Looking distinctly Mem Ferba-ish, Darrell
D’Silva appropriately chews all kinds of scenery as Lazarus. However, British
TV star Ashley Walters and Game of
Thrones fan favorite Michelle Fairley are strangely underutilized as
Lazarus’s duplicitous lieutenant and the DCI incredibly oblivious of her massively
corrupt Detective Constables.
Granted, Ali and screenwriters Jeremy Sheldon
and Peter Lowe are following an established formula, but they clearly recognize
the elements that make it work. Thanks to an engaged cast it clicks together
quite competently and satisfyingly. Recommended for fans of gritty, action
driven revenge dramas, Montana opens
this Friday (9/18) in Los Angeles, at the Arena Cinema.
Labels: British Cinema, Lars Mikkelsen