Taking A Tanking
, 31 Jul 2012
This ropey and muddled low budget 80's political conspiracy thriller features Ray 'I'm the Daddy!' Winstone (who unlike now was going through a pretty thin time career-wise), giving a pretty unconvincing turn (not to mention being too young for the part) in the eponymous role (I can't recall anyone actually explaining his nickname, and he gets referred to mostly by surname or given name John) as a crusading investigative journalist, playing it as himself i. e. a coc-ker-ney hardman who shouts and snarls a lot. However he's in good company as Amanda From LA Law to Emmerdale Donohoe matches him in the OTT emotional over-acting stakes, whilst Jason 'Son of Sean' Connery is preposterous as a public school-type Machiavellian spin doctor. And even though Peter 'Jason King' Wyngarde gets a rare opportunity after his fall from grace to ham it up as a bent right-wing politician, he (probably quite rightly) just seems tired and disinterested in it all. But in a crowded field the worst acting award goes to Marsha 'Brown Sugar' Hunt, sounding like she's reading her lines for the first time in her ridiculous mid-atlantic accent.
The only times it comes to life are when Ray and a light-fingered chum break into Wyngarde's mansion to steal incriminating evidence, and a fight scene at the end. But even the latter is somewhat ludicrously staged - I would guess it was inspired by boxer Nigel Benn who was a big name at the time: he used to almost deliberately take an Ali-Style 'Rope-a-Dope' pounding from his opponents before finally retaliating with a knockout blow, which is exactly what Winstone does here (even though he's up against professional muscle).
Still, at least one can have a bit of fun spotting the familiar faces in the supporting cast: World boxing champions John Conteh and Terry Marsh play a silent hitman and hired thug respectively (roles possibly not stretching their lack-of-acting experience), and there are several of the 'London's Burning' crew scattered throughout the film - see if you can spot them all! It also serves as an escape back to the rose-tinted past for those of that generation (like myself), with the hairstyles and clothes looking great (especially the sharp double-breasted suits that were fashionable at the time).
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