Having made his name as a lads' director with the hooligans and hoodlums of 'The Football Factory' and 'The Business', Nick Love has decided to ditch the violence and humour mix in favour of just the former for 'Outlaw', a film about vigilantism.
London office worker Gene Dekker (Dyer) is savagely beaten after he hits someone else's car at traffic lights. Cambridge student Sandy Mardell (Friend) is slashed across the face on his way home from a night out. Prosecutor Cedric Munroe's (James) wife is attacked during a case involving a drugs kingpin.
Across the city Hillier (Harris), an unhinged hotel security guard, thinks he might have found the outlet for his rage when he befriends Bryant (Bean), an Iraq War veteran staying in the hotel who wants to put his skills to use at home.
The five men, who share past links to each other, join together in a bid to make the streets safer, helped in their quest by Monroe's driver Lewis (Hoskins), a detective sick of the corruption around him.
Love's attempt at making a film for grown-ups begins promisingly, focusing on the powerlessness and fear that many reckon is now an all-too-familiar part of daily life. The premise is intriguing, the characters are all compelling and half-an-hour in you're convinced that you're watching a film that's going to provoke a lot of debate.
But 'Outlaw' is a masterclass in how to lose the plot. What seems at the outset to be a powerful study of male rage and the allure of violence soon turns into a substandard episode of 'The A-Team', minus the tension and character development but with more bloodshed.
From their 'golden age' on video in the 1980s, there are countless vigilante and revenge movies out there and they all say the same things. For Love's film to work he needed to keep the story small - had 'Outlaw' looked at men overcoming their fears by dealing with a few muggers or bullies or yobs on an estate it would've been far more effective and memorable. Instead, the five protagonists try to even the score with a major drug dealer and corrupt police and the film gets sillier by the minute.
As for wasting a cast as strong as this, there ought to be a law against it.