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Shopping Review

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Having been released from prison, Billy (Law) goes straight back to his life of crime, and with the help of his girlfriend, Jo (Frost) he begins ram-raiding shops. Gradually his targets get bigger and bigger as he sets his sights upon the local shopping mall as well as threatening the local gangster.

★★★★★

Founding Brit Pack member Anderson's feature debut goes right for the action jugular. Teenage outlaw Billy (Law) is picked up from jail after a sentence for joy-riding and ram-raiding by his Irish girlfriend Jo (Frost). On the way back to their urban wasteland home, they rip off a BMW and play high-speed touch tag with police cars. Billy, whose need for speed has replaced his sex drive, crashes a car into a superstore just to steal a kettle, and makes himself a threat to mini-tycoon Tommy (Pertwee).

Though the subject is torn from the headlines, this is hardly social realism. The city where the action is set is the mythic backdrop familiar from The Warriors and Streets Of Fire, and there's a touch of A Clockwork Orange in the elevation of petty crooks to street heroes. But as an all-action carquake, this is flawed by budgetary stinginess: the burning of a Porsche has to be conveyed by a shot of a steering wheel on fire, and the climax is truncated before Billy can ram a fortified mall. There is also a problem with the cast: Law and Frost look less like homeless desperadoes than slumming models, and only Pertwee scores any kind of credibility rating.

In order to make this an urban Western, the script admirably goes for amorality in pitting have-not kids against crassly unaffordable luxury. The owners of stolen vehicles are briefly-seen caricatures and no innocent bystanders ever get ploughed under the multiple car pile-ups. Jonathan Pryce and Sean Bean, as a weary policeman and a gangster, represent the adult world, but more interesting is Billy's father, who cowers in the darkness of his flat hoping his son will just go away.

One of the defining Brit Pack movies with an all star cast, particularly starring its then King and Queen, Law and Frost, but sadly that still doesn't stop from being any good. Deluded at the time that Frost could actually act, let alone rough it as a chav, she is unconvincing as Jo while the effects are bottom draw, presumably due to such a low budget wasted on a pretty poor film.

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