Film review: The Liability (15)


There's a wild touch of the Coen brothers in this tale of murder and misadventure, though its north-east England setting would like to encourage memories of a thriller closer to home. Jack O'Connell plays Adam, a teen joyrider who's just crashed the Beamer belonging to his scary stepfather (Peter Mullan).

As punishment, the boy is packed off on a job – he'll be driver for the day to Roy (Tim Roth), a hitman as weary of the business as Adam is eager to join it. A laconic odd-couple comedy is played out as the two take the A1 northwards, while on the radio they listen to reports of a serial killer with a grisly MO.

Body parts, gunplay and the appearance of a mysterious hiker (Talulah Riley) keep the plot motoring, albeit at an unpredictable rhythm. The bleak northern climes are meant to put us in mind of Get Carter, though O'Connell's sidekick more often recalls another young joker understudying a trigger-man in Stephen Frears's 1984 The Hit – a part played (hello again) by Tim Roth. John Wrathall's script promises more than it eventually delivers, but there's some knockabout fun along the way.