Wild Bill (2011) (Blu-ray)

Wanted…just not around here.

Bill (Charlie Creed-Myles, The Fifth Element) has just gotten out of jail, and he’s looking forward to getting back in the crime life. Then he learns that his two adolescent sons are living on their own, their mother long since abandoned them. Now, Bill is taking a shot at being a real dad.

Wild Bill is a small movie, without a lot of big set pieces, but that’s all right. Despite the promise of edgy crime thrills, it’s really about a dad and two disparate sons forming a family of sorts. The boys know they have a relatively good thing going, and aren’t happy about their jailbird dad messing things up. The boys also know there’s a big, scary world outside their door, and the path to crime, drugs, and jail time of their own is a quick one. Even if Bill hasn’t entirely reformed his ways, he can still use what he knows to make the hard life out on the streets a little less hard.

Older son Dean (Will Poulter, Son of Rambow) doesn’t like having Bill around, and he is antagonistic toward Bill throughout. Most of the tension in the film comes from their interactions. Fortunately, the script gives Dean more to do, with him working a construction job to help provide for his little brother, and flirtation with a neighborhood girl, which turns into a lot more than just flirtation. This is good, in that it humanizes the character, and adds a lot of complexity to him, so he’s more than just the angry son. Bill connects better with younger son Jimmy (Sammy Williams, Attack the Block). Their scenes have some warmth lacking elsewhere among all the street toughs. A moment with a paper airplane is the movie at its most heartwarming.

When the film departs from the family dynamic and goes into “crime thriller” territory, it gets less interesting. This is street level crime, such as drug dealing and breaking and entering, with hints as to a larger organization behind it all. There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen in a bunch of other recent UK postmodern gangster flicks. We do get a deliciously brutal barroom brawl out of it, but other than that, it’s the old a-guy-wants-to-come-clean-but-can’t-quite-quit-the-criminal-life plot again.

The movie doesn’t have a lot of flashy visuals, but Wild Bill (2011) (Blu-ray) nonetheless captures the grit and grime of the inner-city streets, with a lot of rich detail and vibrant yet natural colors. It’s a dialogue-heavy film, and the 5.1 DTS track is clean and clear. Bonus features include a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and the trailer.

A mixed bag. Wild Bill has some good performances and an interesting father/son dynamic, but it’s weighed down with a by-the-numbers crime thriller plot as well. It’s worth a look, but not necessarily a purchase.

The Verdict

Wild Bill sure looks guilty, what with those shifty eyes and all, but we’ll let him go this time.

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