Review: Shorta

Written and directed by Frederik Louis and HviidAnders Ølholm, Jens and Mike, two police officers on routine patrol, find themselves trapped in a maze of buildings when unrest spreads. Starring: Jacob Lohmann, Simon Sears, Tarek Zayat, Dulfi Al-Jabouri, Issa Khattab, Abdelmalik Dhaflaoui and Özlem Saglanmak.

This is one of those films where your enjoyment of it may depend on what you’re hoping to get out of it. If you’re hoping for a genuine commentary on institutional racism within the police and its impact on the community, then you’ll likely be left unsatisfied. However, if you’re looking for an action-packed almost L.A. style crime thriller, then it will probably fit the bill perfectly. It’s the key divisive issue, if you’re going to centre your film around racism, then you need to have the sincerity and depth to do it justice. Sadly, that seems to be missing here and the impact of which means that the story feels rather hollow.

Not to mention that these stories are always being told from the perspective of the police and not the innocent people they’re harassing. It pushes a sense of relentless forgiveness, that we should sympathise with racists when they’re finally forced to face the consequences of their actions, and it doesn’t quite work. If you remove that element from the story and cut it down to just the thriller and action aspects, it actually works quite well but trying to take advantage of social issues to further it, dulls that success.

The direction on the other hand, does hold a good amount of tension and darkness, it embraces the violence and conflicts. It moves at a good pace, the editing work keeps things nicely on edge and though it does have a touch of predictability that doesn’t stop it from holding your attention. One of the great things the cinematography capitalises on is the movement of time, the switch from day to night increases its intensity.

Jacob Lohmann and Simon Sears lead this story extremely well with strong performances that are tense, harsh and yet still manage to be emotional. They aren’t necessarily complex characters, their entire journeys, similarities and differences feel very much familiar of what we’ve seen many times before. There’s a great ensemble of supporting actors that nicely round out the film with a little more variety, it’s still not entirely fresh or original but they do genuinely make a difference.

Shorta makes for a great combo of action, crime, thriller but the added themes of injustice and institutional racism aren’t at home here. Sadly the film doesn’t have the depth or dedicate the time to really delve into these issues in a way that would do them justice. It’s a shame as if they’d tried to be less relevant, so to speak, with using social issues and just gone for a flat out action-packed piece of gripping, intense entertainment, this would actually work fantastically. It has a great cast and there’s strong visual work at play but it ultimately feels like it was trying to use the theme of racism in its favour, rather than genuinely explore it.

Verdict: ✯✯½

In UK and Irish cinemas & on Digital from 3rd September

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