, Noel Clarke and Mark Davis, 116 mins (15)

The director of 'Kidulthood' disappoints with a girls'n'guns caper that seems to be modelled on a Snoop Dogg video

Noel Clarke wrote the script for Kidulthood (2006), a fast, aggressive, shocking look at the lives of poor, 15-year-old Notting Hillers. Its main concerns were sex, violence, drugs, bullying, suicide and dodgy shooters (Clarke starred as the villain, Sam) but it was bracingly funny and whizzed along to a groovy, Brits-only soundtrack.

In 2008, Clarke wrote and directed the sequel Adulthood, in which he reprised his badass anti-hero, released from prison after six years; it was longer, more preachy and less well plotted than the original, but at least attempted to reflect the traumas of a disenfranchised London yoof culture. Clarke was clearly someone with his finger on the throbbing vein of the zeitgeist. Last year he picked up a Bafta Rising Star award. Would he turn out to be our home-grown Spike Lee?

Well no, actually, if is the direction he's taking. From charting the losers and villains of grim London streets, he's gone upmarket, uptempo, uptown and, frankly, up himself – happiest when filling the screen with strutting chicks, rapid inter-cutting and enough guns, cars, planes and fancy apartments to suggest he's auditioning to film a Snoop Dogg video.

The film starts with a twenty-something girl standing on a London bridge, evidently about to kill herself. Three other girls approach, apparently to talk her out of it – then one pulls a gun and orders her down. Wtf? Do you dissuade a would-be suicide by threatening to shoot her? The four girls, we learn, are friends. In fact, they are a quartet of cray-zee chicks such as only appear in movies, strikingly different in looks, height, background and temperament. There's Shannon, played by the pleasingly named Ophelia Lovibond, sweet-faced, lonesome and constantly in tears, a kind of professional victim; Cassandra (Tamsin Egerton, last seen in St Trinian's), a swishy, leggy, posh, blonde Home Counties classical pianist; Kerrys (Shanika Warren-Markland) a freakishly tall, lesbian tough nut in a succession of training bras; and Joanna (Emma Roberts – niece of Julia, daughter of Eric), a sweet-faced but whiny American who works inexplicably in a rubbishy grocery store called Teds.

It's impossible to imagine them being real friends, or conducting a conversation that lasts more than 10 seconds. Their only real function is to be Noel Clarke's Bitches, as surely as the Angels were Charlie's. Not that these girls are crime-fighters. They occupy a territory somewhere between the Sex and the City women ("If you can't find Mr Right," Kerrys tells Jo, "get Mr Vibrator") and the Spice Girls. Hell, one of the quartet tells a would-be mugger, "Girls rule!" Given the wrinkled antiquity of these chick-collectives, you wish Mr Clarke could have come up with some new template of feisty womankind.

Anyway, Weepy Spice, Snooty Spice, Dykey Spice and Yankee Spice become accidentally involved with a gang of jewel thieves, who've pulled off a heist in Holland. In London, outside Westfield shopping centre, a group of youths run through the street and collide with the girls; a diamond is accidentally transferred into a handbag and a plot of sorts develops, constantly interrupted by irrelevant narratives. Cassandra flies to New York and loses her virginity, but gets to chat on the plane to Kevin Smith, gargantuan director of the 1994 film Clerks, who has a walk-on part. Kerrys moves into Cassandra's flash apartment to enjoy hot, if gratuitous sex with her girlfriend (Susannah Fielding) and gets stuck in a panic room. In her boring convenience store, Emma witnesses her brusque-but-sexy boss (Noel Clarke) misappropriating the key to the safe, just before the jewel gang comes crashing in. Shannon weeps a lot, sprays graffiti, worries about her recently abandoned dad (a completely wasted Sean Pertwee) and is saved from muggers by a lantern-jawed, kick-boxing, Ferrari-driving babe, played by Michelle Ryan out of EastEnders. There's seldom a dull moment in Foxy Babe Land.

The male characters have a less exciting time. They converse in that cockily ridiculous street patois that your children were affecting two or three years ago, full of "You get me?" and "bruv", and are mostly hopeless at everything except pulling guns on each other. But the dialogue sometimes crackles into life. A gang of desperadoes confront Kerrys snogging her girlfriend in a nightclub, and try to abuse her. Kerrys tells them to eff off. "You kiss your muvva with that mouf?" asks one guy. "No," snaps Kerrys, "but I kissed yours."

The girls' individual stories are traced successively (and interminably) in four narratives with inter-threaded details. So when Cassandra in New York rings Jo in London, we hear their conversation – then hear the other side of it when Jo's story comes round. This multifaceted, story-from-several-angles routine has fuelled umpteen movies, good and bad, from Kurosawa's Rashomon to Tarantino's Jackie Brown, but the device is generally used to shed different perspectives on the truth of a scene. Here, it tells you nothing except which girl was where at what time.

In Empire magazine, Clarke bumptiously nominates Alejandro Inarritu's magnificent debut feature, Amores Perros, as the kind of film he was thinking to emulate. Of he says, "It's told in a bit of an off-kilter way, which I don't think is done much in this country." Yes it is, Noel. It's done in a hundred thousand music videos that involve guns, babes and lots of empty posturing. We'd expected something a bit different. You get me?

Next Week:

Jonathan Romney prepares for a brush with Killer Inside Me, a noir-nasty from Michael Winterbottom

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?