Screwed (18)

Starring: James D'Arcy, Noel Clarke, Frank Harper
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The Independent Culture

The last prison movie to take the side of the jailers was the atrocious Tom Hanks vehicle The Green Mile.

This hardnut British effort is altogether different in mood (violent) and language (ditto), with James D'Arcy as an ex-squaddie trying to cope with Iraq flashbacks and a penal system in which the "screws" (his fellow officers) are as bad as the "scroats" (the inmates). Written by ex-officer Ronnie Thompson, the film has a good eye for procedural detail – drugs, bureaucracy, pecking order, what to do in a riot etc – but a lazy one for character and plot. D'Arcy gives a convincing account of a decent man cracking under pressure, so too Frank Harper as a seen-it-all mentor with a taste for coke and strippers. Sometimes you get the authentic whiff of the criminal underclass, but it needs a stronger narrative to help it carry.