Directed by Vinny Murphy, starring Stuart Sinclair Blyth, Gavin Kelty, Aisling O'Neill & Mark Dunne.

Joyriders speeding across country for a stash of loot... you could be forgiven for thinking that 'Accelerator' was a sneer-a-minute outing for the 'Cannonball Run' antics of a bunch of wasters. But for his debut feature film Vinny Murphy has sent a haunting memo from the teenage wasteland - a look at people who give up before they've even grown up. Johnny T (Blyth) is run out of the North by the paramilitaries because he can't keep his hands off other people's cars. Determined to make a new start, he takes refuge in Dublin, only to cross old adversary Whacker (Kelty) and find himself dragged into a six-car race from Belfast to the Papal Cross. The winner takes £1,200 and for Johnny T that's enough for a ticket to a better place - or two if Whacker's girlfriend Louise (O'Neill) tags along.

Finding a place for social insight within the run-don't walk confines of an action film is no mean feat, but Murphy manages to combine the two, never outplaying the emotions or dwelling on the rough and tumble. At the heart of 'Accelerator' lies the question: just where does reality figure for people who think they're living a movie in the first place? The answer is both swift and bloody - inspired and informed by every set piece of fun and fatalism they've seen onscreen, characters blur the line between fact and fantasy with tragic consequences. The night begins with high spirits as cars are chosen and challenges issued, but as the race wears on, bravado turns to fear and you know they're speeding towards a bitter payoff.

Murphy's vision of youth is harsh but long overdue. In what can be seen as one of the most up to date takes on growing up in Ireland, endless clock watching days are lived out in dead end bowling alleys and empty car parks with bouts of crime to break the tedium. And while he will be accused of being too sympathetic, you're constantly reminded that the characters really are driving nowhere - albeit at 120mph. Urgent and gutsy, 'Accelerator' has cult hit skidded all over it.

Harry Guerin