Invented by author and screenwriter Patrick Neate, Tommy Aktar comes complete with chain smoking habit and signature drink: double Turk, no ice (that’s Wild Turkey, to you).
He ducks and dives in the west London shadows, hired by Melody, a prostitute (played by Cush Jumbo), to find a missing colleague. “I charge 300 a day,” he tells her. “I charge 300 an hour.” she counters. “I’m in the wrong game,” says Tommy. He’s in the right office, though, with his name on the smoked glass window.
The script has a decent share of such hard-boiled zingers as it seeks the London equivalent for Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. The camerawork tries to do the same for that old noir look, but I’m not sure the slo-mos and blurry fades get it quite right.
You can see Aktar getting his own TV spin-off series, and I’d watch that eagerly. In this film, though, he’s drawn into a web of his own childhood when he finds his former pal connected to a murder that ties in with shady property deals, Islamic youth groups and counter-terrorist spies.
It also brings back an old love, played by Billie Piper, although all this back story is filled in way too much by flashbacks to a summer 20 years ago that brings plot strands together but drastically undermines the tension of the main thriller story, just as it was getting interesting.
But aside from the distracting camera work and flashbacks, this is an enterprising and enjoyable effort, ripe with promise and graced by Riz at his cool, resilient and vulnerable best.