Starring: Peter Ferdinando, Stephen Graham, Neill Maskell, MyAnna Buring
Director: Gerard Johnson
2015 is going to be a terrific year if you are a fan of British movies - we have already been treated to some great films and there are many more on the horizon. And one is set to hit the big screen this week, in the form of Hyena.
Hyena marks the return of Gerard Johnson to the director's chair for the first time since he made his directorial debut with Tony back in 2009, and Hyena looks set his star rocketing ever further. The movie sees Johnson reunite with actor Peter Ferdinand - who played the title role in Tony - while the likes of Stephen Graham, Neil Maskell, and MyAnna Buring make up a supremely talented cast.
Hyena revolves around Michael Logan (Ferdinando) an anti-hero for our times: a natural predator and a complex mix of high-functioning addict and corrupt police officer. But his dark world is evolving. A recent influx of ruthless Albanian gangsters is threatening to change London's criminal landscape.
Michael's razor sharp instincts have always kept him one-step ahead, but now his increasingly self-destructive behaviour and the sheer brutality of the new gang lords find Michael in a spiralling descent of fear and self-doubt.
British cinema has never shied from tricky and sometimes grim subject matter, and writer and director Johnson has delivered a dark and gritty movie that is quite an uncomfortable watch at time. Of course, Hyena does tackle subject matter that we have seen before - corrupt cops, drug dealers, and sex trafficking rings - but he has put a remarkably fresh feel on material that we have seen many times before.
Johnson really was a director to keep an eye on after he made his debut with Tony, which was one of the most unique debuts I think I have ever seen, and he has not disappointed with the follow-up, which is equally as dark. Peter Ferdinando has been making a name for himself in recent years with terrific performances in Tony and Starred Up, and he delivers another terrific turn as he reunites with Johnson.
Ferdinando gives a truly gripping performance as a cop with one foot on either side of the law. However, he is a conflicted character and hides a lot of inner turmoil over his actions and the path that he has chosen to go down. It is this conflicted nature and almost unease in his own skin that makes it impossible to take your eyes off him. While there are other great performances from the likes of Stephen Graham and Richard Dormer, it really is Ferdinando who steals the show.
From start to finish, Hyena is a dark, violent, gritty and rather claustrophobic movie that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. Johnson has told this story in a way that really does get under your skin in a way, and he must be heavily praised for putting a fresh spin on a story that has been told many times before.
The partnership between Johnson and Ferdinando is a truly exciting one, as the pair have tackled some interesting themes and ideas as well as creating two wonderful characters with the film projects they have worked together on so far… is this the start of another great actor/director collaboration that will result in a great string of films and performances? I guess we are just going to have to wait and see. I think we are going to see these two work together many times over the coming years and I am excited to see what they achieve in front of and behind the camera.
Hyena is not a movie that you would watch on a regular basis, but it is an unsettling and suspenseful watch. I know that we have seen this subject matter tackled many times before, but Johnson successful put and edgy spin on it. Really looking forward to seeing what he does next.