The Hot Potato - Blu-ray Review

'The final, inevitable, double-cross comes so late in the day that even the characters involved simply conclude that they have arrived too late.'

The broken nature of The Hot Potato starts to show through when the film asks you to believe that Louise Redknapp is married to Ray Winstone. Now, of course, there are marriages with significant age gaps and there are marriages where the beauty of one individual is offset by the weathered manliness of the other, but this union comes in a film where we have already been expected to believe that Danny (Jack Huston) has simply waltzed off from an explosion with a rather large piece of uranium. It is what's on the inside that counts really though and whilst the Redknapp/Winstone marriage may come complete with plenty of warmth, The Hot Potato's plot arrives with a great deal of highly suspect emptiness.

This manifests itself in a significant lack of both Comedy and Caper, a major issue in a film which bills itself as a... well... as a 'Comedy-Caper'. The comedy element is lacking but for some colourfully inept characters (Fritz (Derren Nesbitt) is quite entertaining) and a smattering of slapstick, whilst the Caper (Danny and Kenny (Winstone) try to sell the uranium) seems to go on much longer than the films ninety-odd minutes, not once finding any intrigue worth caring about. The final, inevitable, double-cross comes so late in the day that even the characters involved simply conclude that they have arrived too late. The police, and the credits, are arriving! Quick! Depart from the plot at haste. They oblige.

The interest here then is solely for those Winstone completists intent on finishing his canon up to this point, and for those interested in seeing potentially odd casting choices produce fairly satisfying fruit. Redknapp, though given so, so little to do, is as adept as she needs to be; she looks unlike an amateur and more like one with an idea of how to play this sort of thankless task convincingly. Veiled criticism, perhaps, but still, she does the best she can possibly do with doting, oft-marginalised, Irene. Better written is the role of Carole, which goes to Winstone's daughter Lois. Her transformation from quiet secretary to 'Emma Peel' is believeable and the most entertaining of the arcs available. A bright future potentially awaits.

Kenny's arc, though performed with typical erstwhile dedication by Winstone, is far less notable. Writer Tim Lewiston seems unable to decide whether Kenny is bumbling shop owner, debonair smoothy or mega-smart businessman, giving Winstone little direction on how gruff and menacing to go. As such he goes all over the place. Kenny is typically intimidating Winstone one minute, mild-mannered metal-worker the next. He is everything the plot needs him to be at all times, which shows just how badly written this is, a film unable to function without a badly-characterised every man.

The Hot Potato, especially for the first half, is largely un-offensive but it is also largely un-developed. Much more work on the script and a surer bit of directing were required to mark this out from the rest of the direct-to-DVD crowd.

The Hot Potato is out on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Monday 10th September.

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