Hard-working Glaswegian teenager John (Conor McCarron) grows up in the shadow of his bruising older brother and an alchoholic father. Before long though, peer pressure forces him into the same brutal underworld.
Glasgow 1973; the streets are filled with knife-wielding thugs with haircuts that make them look like they’ve all lost a bet. Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place is aspiring teenager John McGill (Conor McCarron). He’s ambitious and bright, but held back by an alcoholic father at home and an older brother whose terrifying legend shadows his every step. Social mores and peer pressure turn the young McGill feral, his brooding, bubbling anger rushing to the surface in an orgy of bloody violence. Peter Mullan captures the innate adolescent fear of empty playgrounds and thrumming schoolyards and his Glasgow is flooded with lively colours, but for all its promise, its third act — brimming with religious imagery — feels like a film in search of an ending.
A rush of violent, visceral drama, Mullan's directorial effort will stay with you. The disappointment? A final third that meanders to its conclusion.