Film noir is a much beloved genre among film fans, dating back to the hard-boiled detective stories of the 1930s and 1940s such as The Big Sleep, and The Maltese Falcon, to the more modern stabs at noir such as LA Confidential. Noir has come in many forms, but generally conforms to a number of specific genre tropes and conventions. However, the genre, on paper at least, should not really work in the confines of modern day London, and yet World of Hurt somehow manages to make a decent fist of it.
World of Hurt is the story of Dick Hurt, a hard drinking, heavy smoking, snooker playing private detective in London who is hired by a mysterious businessman to follow his fiancée. However, he soon finds himself entangled in a tricky situation involving a ruthless dame, a bunch of ‘hoodlums’, a government conspiracy, and an alien dwarf. All the while Dick sees a vision of his deceased girlfriend, giving him cryptic warnings about the situation he is embroiled in.
The concept for World of Hurt is highly original, but unfortunately the execution lets it down. The noir world is transposed onto modern day London very well, never focusing too heavily on modern details, with Hurt existing within the city’s underbelly. The fact that the film is in black and white also helps to reinforce the Noir element throughout, always complimented by some excellent costume choices, especially for Dick Hurt. Bridge-Butler does a competent job as Hurt, following all of the character foibles the audience have come to expect from the traditional tough PI, only with a very British spin, and an air of nonchalance which very much suits.
For around two thirds of World of Hurt the film delivers on its primary aim of creating a very British modern day noir, but unfortunately in the final half hour it all falls to pieces. The mysterious web of relationships, double crossing, and mis-truths that had built up so effectively is completely thrown away in favour of a poorly thought out, deeply unsatisfying twist. It is a genuine shame that the story has gone this particular route, as it had the potential to be so much more, and the decision to jettison the plot that the audience had spent the previous hour investing in, only to pull an M Night Shyamalan style swerve out of the bag left a particularly sour taste in this writer’s mouth.
World of Hurt is a reasonable effort, and given its miniscule budget it could have been far less ambitious, which is something which should be applauded. However, some restraint needed to be shown at points, especially towards the film’s conclusion to give a proper pay-off to all the good work early on. Two critics in the screening I attended lefts within an hour, which goes to show perhaps this film is not for those with less patience, or an inability to appreciate the nods and references made in the film to the classic films of the noir genre, but it certainly has some merit. While World of Hurt is far from perfect, it certainly shows what can be done with a little money and some imagination, but equally the value of not overstretching an idea and trying to do too much when less would certainly have been more. Hardly a world of hurt for the audience to sit through, but certainly not a world of pleasure either.