Death Wish comes to the streets of Derbyshire in Dead Man's Shoes, Shane Meadows' pared-down tale of vigilante vengeance. Working off his own script, Paddy Considine stars as Richard, a wild-eyed ex-army man back in town to track down the local drug dealers who tortured his retarded brother. A thorny take on the morality of crime and punishment, it's a back-to-basics guerrilla production that sees Meadows heading back to familiar gritty territory after his ambitious British comedy western Once Upon A Time In The Midlands.
What you see in Dead Man's Shoes is pretty much what you get, as Considine's crazed killer heads back into town and stirs up trouble. Tracking down the men responsible for molesting and torturing his younger brother Anthony (Tony Kebbell) during a drug binge led by local nutter Sonny (Gary Stretch), Richard starts off by spooking them. Then things turn nasty as a series of DIY murders involving army knives, axes, and plastic bags come into play. Focusing on Considine's trail of carefully planned carnage, it's like watching a live action version of controversial videogame Manhunt. The 18 certificate is undoubtedly warranted.
"THE VIOLENCE IS NASTY AND UNGLAMORISED"
Hold Considine's thousand yard stare for too long and you'll glimpse the horrific darkness that's burning in his heart. This is a man who's seen far more than just basic training, and the actor's tortured intensity challenges us to condone or condemn him as the film's tragedy unfolds: "You. You're supposed to be a monster. Now I'm the ******* beast."
While the semi-detached rural backdrop gives this Midlands tale's violence a strangely incongruous sense of place, it's the moral questioning that ensures the film has power. The druggy thugs may be scum, but the film isn't certain whether or not they really deserve to die. As a result, the violence - nasty and unglamorised - delivers a short, sharp shock to the moral nether regions, as it demands: what would you do?