EIFF 2014: Hyena

Film Review by jamie@theskinny.co.uk | 18 Jun 2014
  • Hyena
Film title: Hyena
Director: Gerard Johnson
Starring: Peter Ferdinando, Stephen Graham, Neil Maskell, Elisa Lasowski

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.

Hyena opens Edinburgh Film Festival 2014, Festival Theatre, 18 June, 9.05pm