With "New Town Killers" writer and director Richard Jobson aims to make a social statement, what that statement is, well what I saw was a statement about the wealthy exploiting the poor as we watch the wealthy Alistair use and destroy those less well off than him for his personal pleasure. The trouble is that whilst you can spot this statement there seems to be no depth to it or if there is it gets lost. Instead what you get with "New Town Killers" is a movie which plays with the hunted man genre and for a while manages to make it work until it starts going off into the world of fantasy as realism vanishes. As such what you end up with is a movie which grabs your attention but struggles to keep it even when it comes to the big climax.
For Sean Macdonald (James Anthony Pearson) life is a constant battle, living with his sister in a block of flats where he discovers that not only is she deep in debt but could be pregnant as well. So when he is approached by two smartly dressed men who offer him £12,000 to play a game of hide n seek it seems some of his problems may have been solved. That is until he starts to play and realises that one of the men Alistair Raskolnikov (Dougray Scott - Mission: Impossible II) is a psychotic killer who is getting his kicks by hunting Sean down with a plan to kill him.
For about the first 3 minutes of "New Town Killers" you may be wondering what is going on, we witness Jaimie arrived at Ethical Finance for a job interview and then the next we see Sean jump from a building to the street below via canopy where his friend Sam is waiting. All becomes clear relatively quickly as we are taken into Sean's world, living with his sister in a block of flats, she's heavily in debt and as he discovers probably pregnant. Not only that the only job Sean can get is working as a toilet attendant in a posh restaurant or do what his friend Sam does, which is turn tricks for men up the hill.
Anyway all this leads to Sean being propositioned by Alistair and Jamie, if he can survive 12 hours from 9pm to 9am he gets the contents of a locker, £12,000 the exact amount he needs to bail his sister out. And so we watch as Sean agrees and what he thinks is just some rich folks getting their jollies playing hide n seek soon turns into a desperate battle for survival as he realises that Alistair is a psychotic killer who literally plans to hunt him down through the streets of Edinburgh. All of which is quite good as Sean has to run, hide, jump from building to building, avoid being run down and discovering he can't trust anyone.
But unfortunately after a good first half which is nicely worked so that we watch Sean getting increasingly desperate things go wrong. They basically go wrong in a typical fashion when he decides he needs to fight back and the sense of realism is lost as he does things which are out of character. From stealing a car, stuffing a dead body in the boot through to hacking into a computer it becomes too far fetched. And that leads too a seriously far fetched climax which you can see coming but hope it doesn't.
It means that at the half way mark you have to disengage your brain and just watch all the action which in turn means the social statement ends up becoming lost. It also means that "New Town Killers" becomes a movie about two people Sean and Alistair. Now for the first half James Anthony Pearson is very good as Sean as he gets across the desperation of his situation as well as the realisation and fear that he is in deep trouble but as the character changes in the second half it becomes ordinary. On the other hand Dougray Scott as Alistair Raskolnikov is menacing from start to finish be it when he is being kind as he persuades Sean to agree to play the game or when he turns relentless psycho. Yes what Alistair ends up doing is too far fetched but at least Scott keeps that sense of menace about him.
What this all boils down to is that whilst writer and director Richard Jobson may have wanted to make a social statement with "New Town Killers" it ends up getting lost as the movie becomes a British hunted man movie and one which sadly spirals out of control as realism is lost during the second half.