The sage Marvin Gaye said that inner city blues made him want to holler, and you could be directing a few choice words at the screen yourself during or after The Man Inside - another addition to the 'gritty urban drama' genre, which fails to make the most of either its premise or its cast.

It tells the story of Clayton Murdoch (Thomas), a promising boxer with a very troubled family history. His father Eugene (Harewood) is doing life for murder and abused both Clayton and his mother Elizabeth (Jules) when he was on the outside. With his mother having retreated into religious obsession, Clayton is now the lynchpin of the family, trying to keep younger brother Jay (Kambaba) and sister Kia (Oram) on the straight and narrow. But when Kia's boyfriend is stabbed, it drags Clayton into a world he's tried desperately hard to stay out of - and leads him to wonder just how like his father he really is.

The idea - youngster trying to find his way out of the wreckage created by his father and make something of himself - is a good one, but rather than focus on their relationship and the burning/building of bridges, writer-director Turner shoehorns too much into his plot, resulting in a movie that has some good moments (classily shot in great locations) but always feels like it's trying too hard to make its point. There are clunky flashbacks and overwrought scenes, stabbings and ructions centred around a teen pregnancy, all of which are handled in a way that makes The Man Inside far-fetched and unsatisfying.

When it comes to the performances, Thomas, Mullan and Kambaba make the most of what's in the script, but former EastEnders star Ryan's talents are wasted on a poorly developed character, while Homeland star Harewood is required to play a baddie who graduated from the table-banging and snarling school - he was far more effective as a taciturn, charismatic villain in the BBC series Criminal Justice.

On the subject of the BBC, if you want to see a British movie with desperate people, and where the themes of male identity and bravado and the seductiveness of crime are handled really well, try Eran Creevy's Beeb-funded Shifty - for £100,000 it's a far better film. Perhaps the nicest thing to say about The Man Inside is that it could have been a contender.

Harry Guerin