Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Little Favour Review (both with and without spoilers)

 "It’s been 7 years since [WALLACE, played by Benedict Cumberbatch] left Her Majesty’s service and 10 years since the American counter-part who became his friend, saved his life on a joint mission in Iraq. He’s migrated his skill set into a lucrative business while managing to keep his secret battle with PTSD under wraps. One day, while finally deciding to try his hand at a functional relationship, his old friend JAMES cashes in his chip and asks a LITTLE FAVOUR. How could he refuse when he owes the man his life?"

Released on iTunes today is Little Favour, a short film that I have been following with interest since early this year when the project went up on Indiegogo where it raised around four times its original goal of £25,000 in 12 days. Mostly my curiosity was piqued by the involvement of Benedict Cumberbatch who is possibly one of the most in demand actors out there right now, so for him to be involved in a small independent project like this, it must be something fairly significant.

 Non-Spoiler Review
 First of all, most of the information in the above synopsis is not evident in the film itself, some things are hinted at but I feel we needed to spend a little more time establishing Wallace "Ace". We follow him as he arrives at what appears to be some empty industrial building and meets his friend James, played by Colin Salmon (is this a contest for the manliest voice?). They then discuss the favour James needs of Ace.

From there I can elaborate no further on the plot, so I'll focus on everything else. Patrick Viktor Monroe has only directed one other short film previously called Oscar's Escape, primarily he has worked as an assistant to Tom Hardy, including on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which is where he met Benedict I assume.

Visually it's distinct, very slick and plays beautifully with the lighting, it's appealing to watch even without sound. Speaking of which, the sound design is interesting, instead of visual flashbacks, the flashbacks are presented with clips of dialogue saving on time which is so precious in a short film. The music is subtle and eerie and has an unnatural quality to it.
 This is primarily an action driven story and the choreography is great, really intense and it's shot in a way that's easy to follow the action. This would have been filmed around the same time as Into Darkness and I think Benedict is using a similar fighting style as both Khan and Ace, I would guess it to be Krav Maga, a devastating and efficient fighting style that looks far more grounded and practical than the overly gymnastic or elaborate styles we often see in films.

The villain, Logan, is played by Nick Moran doing an obnoxious Russian accent, it was hard to understand him at times (did he say "leak" or "lick"?) and felt jarringly cartoonish. Everyone else in the cast is really solid, I don't need to even mention Benedict as I believe he is literally incapable of delivering a bad performance.
Also starring is Monroe's own daughter Paris, she doesn't get much to do, but as her first ever role she did a good job.

I'm about to get into spoilers so I'm going to say if you're even remotely curious Little Favour is just $2.99 in the iTunes store and it's an entertaining 21 minutes with an ambiguous ending that will leave you wanting to watch it again.

 Spoilers (sweetie)
So the favour is that James has gotten himself in over his head somehow and Ace needs to look after his young daughter Lilah. Ace is reluctant at first as he wants to stay as far away from this world as possible, but he does owe James, so he reluctantly agrees.
Once back at Ace's home, Lilah wanders around and discovers some creepy artwork mounted to the wall of a child soldier which is a great big example of foreshadowy symbolism.
In the other room Ace is on the phone to the woman he had been seeing just before the film begins, distracted he is attacked by of Logan's men but he holds his own until he goes for his car and is rendered unconscious by Logan.

We then find him bloody and beaten in an empty warehouse, Logan and his men want to know where James is, Ace does not know but demands to see Lilah. They bring her out, she takes Logan's gun and proceeds to kick ass. Soon only Ace, Logan and Lilah are left standing, while Ace has a gun on Logan, Lilah runs off to get her father and that's where things turn surreal, just as you're trying to figure out what's going on, it ends abruptly just after Lilah coldly executes Logan.

I don't mind this kind of ending, it made me immediately go back and rewatch it to see if I missed anything, the conclusion I draw is that it's completely open to interpretation and I have a few of my own theories, each just as likely as the others but I think it's best if I leave you to draw your own conclusions without any prior ideas.


  1. I actually cannot get over how interesting and well performed/constructed/everything this was.

  2. It just occured to me, I wonder if Benedict's real-life kidnaping experience influenced this performance in any way?