EIFF 2014: Hyena
A compelling central performance from Peter Ferdinando is not enough to save Gerard Johnson’s derivative and deeply unpleasant thriller, Hyena. Ferdinando – sweaty, dishevelled and brilliantly fraught – plays bent copper Michael, leader of a rag-tag, brutal vice task force who hoover elicit substances up their hooters almost as quickly as they find the villains to steal them off. When Michael witnesses the brutal murder of a Turkish drug smuggler with whom he was going into business, a convoluted tale of double dealing, police corruption and people trafficking unfolds.
Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant is the most obvious touchstone here, but Johnson is not exclusive with his influences; Pusher, Internal Affairs and even Taxi Driver permeate the narrative and design. The problem comes with bringing absolutely nothing new to such well-trodden ground, apart from some worryingly pervasive misogyny and xenophobia. Everything plays-out exactly as one would expect, and with tiresome reliance on the cliché of frequent slow-motion, frantic, tightly-framed shots and jump cuts. It’s trying really hard to be vital and edgy, managing only to be boring and nasty.