Baseline review (Blu-ray)

Danny (Connor) works as a bouncer in The Baseline, a nightclub in London. When he saves the life of his boss Terry (Foreman), he finds himself getting caught up in a violent life of crime, one he's not comfortable with. When one such incident ends up with his best friend Paul (Gordon Alexander) getting shot and subsequently imprisoned, Danny is determined to get his own nightclub and go completely straight. While he's discovering that life isn't that simple, Paul comes out of prison to find his past has caught up with him.

As 'fierce and contemporary' urban dramas go, this isn't too bad at all. The usual clichés are in place - tough-talking gangsters, grimy nightclubs, an appearance by boxer-turned-actor Gary Stretch - but despite the familiarity Baseline isn't too predictable. By focusing on a character who wants to do right rather than the usual wannabe gangsters, there's a moral core to the film that's all too often missing from films of this genre.

British gangster favourites such as Jamie Foreman (Layer Cake, Nil By Mouth) and Dexter Fletcher (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) play their roles perfectly well, but the more interesting character is Danny. Freddie Connor, who also co-wrote and co-produced Baseline, is constantly torn between his friends, his sense of morality and his ambition, none of which are happy bedfellows. Playing by the rules in a world where rules are frequently broken by those who make them tends to lead down one path only.

As is often the way with this sort of story, the females roles are fairly limited but Zoe Tapper's Jessica, Danny's girlfriend, does at least have some character and fortitude despite a distinct lack of screen time. The dialogue is decent, which makes a pleasant change, while the violence is at times shocking. Director O'Loughlin manages to maintain an effective air of menace throughout and the washed out colours give Baseline a nicely gritty feel. Not brilliant but definitely above average.

EXTRAS ★ Just a brief interview with Freddie Connor and two trailers.

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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