Monday, 8 January 2018

Stormy Monday (1988)

A 1980s British crime thriller that puts a man unwittingly in the middle of escalating events between some violent gangsters and American businessmen. And the title incorporates a day of the week. I'm not saying that Stormy Monday seems designed, in places, to ride along on the coat tails of the legendary The Long Good Friday, but there are certainly some interesting similarities, although the whole thing being set in the North of England, as opposed to London, is enough to give it quite a different general flavour.

Young Sean Bean is the man who ends up in the middle of a messy situation. He's working for a man named Finney (Sting), he ends up entangled with a woman named Kate (Melanie Griffith), and he's really a spanner in the works for people like Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones), a VIP from America, and a pair of thugs (one played by James Cosmo).

This is the feature debut from Mike Figgis, who both wrote and directed the movie, and it's an interesting and strange piece of work. While it is perhaps a bit too beholden to the film it hews closest to, Figgis also shows a confidence in his own material, never feeling an urge to rush things along or make the infrequent moments of violence feel too cool or glamorous. He takes his time with all of the main characters, good and bad, and keeps a lot of different parts moving smoothly as the plot winds towards the finale.

Unfortunately, due to the deliberately slow pacing, the film doesn't really ever feel as tense as it should. Nothing really builds up, instead simply moving from one event to the next. To use a clumsy metaphor, Stormy Monday shows you a lot of separate explosions without ever showing you the fuse burning down.

The cast help to make things better though. Sean Bean is believable as the fresh-faced new lad in town, willing to take any job going as he gets back on his feet. Griffith is appealing enough, I've never been her biggest fan but the moments between her and Bean show just enough chemistry to make their relationship believable. Tommy Lee Jones is solid, Sting is okay, and everyone else does just fine, particularly a youngish Cosmo exuding a real sense of menace.

You can look around and find many better movies than this one, whether you want a better Figgis film, a better British thriller, or even a better film featuring a performance from any of the leads. But that doesn't make this film unworthy of your time. It's an interesting, fun, curio that places these names alongside one another, and also features some Roger Deakins cinematography.


Pick Stormy Monday up on bluray here.
Americanos can get it here.

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