Review: City Of Tiny Lights

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Review: City Of Tiny Lights

By Marti Dols Roca.

City of Tiny Lights is a London underworld crime thriller; nothing new under the sun until this point. Based on the novel with the same name, Pete Travis’ film has everything a piece of this genre needs to have: a protagonist whose moral compass and financial situation are inversely proportional; a main plot full of twists; a subplot related to the main character’s past that will end up playing a major role in the outcome; and a series of deep enough secondary characters: the funny and sad father, the pretty and shady hooker, the dodgy sidekick and the successful childhood friend who hides something.

The movie works: it delivers a believable and interesting story, it’s almost perfect in terms of structure and it has the precise amount of ideological brushstrokes to makes us reflect on a couple of current and delicate matters (will come back to that). The thing is, it’s so perfect in terms of genre and story canons, it occasionally feels like the same old mould filled with a fairly new substance. As an example: it even ends with the main guy sitting on an ambulance at dawn, holding a gauze to his wounded forehead, nodding his appreciation to the police officer passing by and silently observing how the bad guys are being taken in. We all kind of know that image, don’t we?



That being said, if you were looking for an original, fresh, new and mind-blowing postmodern take on the thriller genre go see another movie. On the other hand, if you have a taste for real flavored stories, in real flavored settings with real flavored characters that use an old but functional frame in order to be told, this may be a movie you’ll enjoy. Moreover, and in the humble opinion of the writer of this article, one of the most interesting things of this film is a quite nice little lesson about stereotypes and rushed moral judgments on certain religions that is absolutely necessary in the present day and time. As I was saying, there are certain bits of the story that may be predictable; but sadly, that would be due to how terribly predictable human nature sometimes is, i.e. follow the money, the suits and the powerful instead of the young, shaved, bearded and dark-skinned if you want to get to the core of the problem.

So, again, if you were looking for an original, fresh, new and mind-blowing postmodern take on the thriller genre go see another movie. And please let me know the title because I would like to see it too 😉


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