What on the surface of it appears to run of the mill revenge action film set in London’s South East area is just that.
Montana, starts of with an intense execution scene as we see Serbian commando Dimitrije’s (Lars Mikkelson) wife and son killed. Fast forward many years and now Dimitrije has a beard, a limp and lives near the West Silvertown area of London. He spends his time acting as a local vigilante, slowly picking off local crime lord Lazarus’ cronies and chatting to friend Slavko (the always watch-able Zlatko Buric). Also walking the streets of East London is young Montana (McKell David). He trains as a boxer and dreams of becoming a big-time gangster like Ryan (Ashley Walters) and Pitt (Adam Deacon).
After a drug pick up goes wrong, Montana’s gangster buddies attempt to kill him only to be saved by Dimitrije who takes the teenager under his wing, trains him in the art of combat with the aim of taking down Lazarus – who it just so happens is about to end up going to war with Montana’s old gangster friends.
Managing to feel like a mix of Kidulthood, Eastern Promises and even The Karate Kid, Montana has the feel of a cinematic stew – everything’s been thrown in. Scenes showing Montana’s blossoming relationship with a local girl initially feel like they could be quite sweet but we miss the whole courting and the kids go from first awkward date to in a full relationship in five minutes. Most the scenes involving Ryan and Pitt are mostly filled with London rude boy cliches, every sentence ending with “ye get me?” whilst the crims all wearing shiney ill-tailored suits (there might be a point to that but they look stupid nonetheless).
Dimitrije’s angel of death rampage is closely followed by bent copper Stephen (Brad Moore), with police procedural dialogue so compelling that it’s clear writer Jeremy Sheldon must have seen at least three episodes of The Bill. Same goes for any criminal related dialogue, it all sounds regurgitated from a dozen other crime films (something complained about in The Prince the other week). Adam Deacon puts in a spirited but ultimately grating performance. At the forefront though Lars Mikkelson and McKell David make an unlikely engaging double act.
There’s the standard student/master role which grows into something closer which ends up becoming surprisingly emotional. The action scenes are perfectly fine, nothing to write home about. Guns get shot. Fists get thrown. One scene feels entirely too reminiscent of the famous steam room fight from Eastern Promises for comfort. The film’s at it’s best when showing our anti-hero duo in conversation as haunted and deadly Serbian meets naive and angry East Ender. Montana aims to be a revenge thriller set in London but once the drama mixes with the faux East End gangsterisms, it can’t help but feel like just another British gangster.
Montana is released on Digital Download on January 19th and DVD on January 26th.