Tu£sday (2008)

2010 #51
Sacha Bennett | 79 mins | DVD | 15

Tu£sday is a low-budget crime thriller, in which several groups of people all try to rob the same bank on the same day — hence the clever title. Unfortunately, the concept is much more interesting than the film writer/director Sacha Bennett has forced it into.

I’ll cut to the chase: Tu£sday is only notable for reuniting John Simm and Philip Glenister post Life on Mars. Christ alone knows why they agreed to it; quite possibly because they’re friends with Bennett. The pair are always good value, even with the limited material on offer here. All the other actors are variable. I’m never quite sure of Kevin McNally and this certainly does nothing to sway me to the positive.

The high-profile cast frequently belie what you’re watching. Most of the production has an amateurish feel. It’s hard to pinpoint, but it seems to be a combination of photography and editing: the look is like plain digital video, the choice of shots often obvious and lacking variety, the editing not as tight as it should be. Several takes look like they needed another couple of goes. The screenplay feels a draft or two away from completion, particularly dialogue.

The final iteration of the robbery (it’s repeated multiple times as we learn of each group’s attempt) in particular repeats too much of what we’ve already seen. Other versions of this sequence are among the film’s best edited moments, especially the replays that remind us where we were without descending into boring repetition. As the film barely scrapes up to a theatrical running time, there’s a suspicion that the final re-run genuinely was left untouched to keep the length up.

So, the story is convoluted, and muddied further with asides. But this is actually one of the film’s strongest points: the audience is kept busy with complications and unheralded flashbacks, working hard to ascertain which time period we’re watching and where the changeovers happen. Perhaps more could be done to help us follow it — maybe not starting with the Cowboys’ history, for instance, or using some visual trickery to differentiate the robbery, flashback and investigation scenes — but without it certainly makes us work more. Perhaps that’s being kind. At least having the mind racing with the plot distracts a little from the sub-Tarantino dialogue, which is a plus.

But it’s hard to ignore entirely. Sadly, the Reservoir Dogs vibe — jumbled timeline, post-failed-heist setting, irreverent chats, etc — is a couple of decades too late. Bennett is no Tarantino, even though he clearly (but perhaps subconsciously) wants to be. The downside to this is it can leave one longing for a more competent writer/director to remake Tu£sday even before it’s finished, with a greater handle and emphasis on that enticing multiple-robbery conceit.

I’m also not sure why it’s set in the ’80s. Something to do with the security at a bank, I suppose, as more modern systems would make this kind of tale nigh on impossible. It also allows for an amusingly cheesy title sequence and some equally laughable costumes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as all-out for the decade as Ashes to Ashes did, but then that has a much larger budget. I’m left with the conclusion that the decade of choice is a plot-easing convenience, then, rather than a true facet of the film.

I suspect almost anyone who bothers with Tu£sday will have been lured by the promise of reuniting Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler. Such lofty expectations are only going to lead to disappointment: it’s an ensemble film, for one thing, and it’s no Life on Mars. Not even close. But lower your sights, allow for the amateurish nature of some technical elements and the lack of polish to dialogue and performances, and the time-juggling narrative may actually be enough to sustain your interest.

3 out of 5

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