Parting Shots review

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In the very middle of Middle England, something very horrible is happening. Among all those impeccably manicured gardens, neatly cut hedgerows and umbrella-festooned country pubs, a flabby, ageing singer is shuffling around with an automatic, killing people. He doesn't always shoot them, though: he drowns one and blows up another.

Welcome to the unpleasant world of the Michael Winner comedy, where fraud, bullying and bad manners are punishable by death, and where each brutal murder is accompanied by a jaunty, Last Of The Summer Wine-style musical backing. Anyone unfamiliar with restaurant critic and News Of The World columnist Winner's career as a film-maker should look to Death Wish and Hannibal Brooks for his, um, 'best' work, and Dirty Weekend and Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood for his worst... Until now, that is.

Not only is Parting Shots offensive, with a painfully transparent pro-capital punishment agenda, but it's also incredibly incompetent, in terms of concept, casting (Chris Rea??), script, acting, soundtrack (Chris Rea??), direction... In short, this is bad in every possible way - and then some. Rea lollops about the place like an abused beagle, not even trying to act, offering the audience a choice between two facial expressions: rueful and bored. "I... loove... you," he mutters to Felicity Kendal (who plays the `Bonnie' to his `Clyde') as she twitches uncomfortably under the gaze of Winner's defective lens.

The director's presence is palpable throughout, and you soon get the idea that he made Parting Shots for no one other than himself. It's a vanity project of the vainest kind, meaning we have to suffer an extraneous restaurant scene which exists only so Winner can voice all his pet hates about dining out (the punchline is: Rea kills the chef) and - most insultingly - the repeated product placement of just about every Murdoch newspaper (although, to be fair, he chucks in The Daily Telegraph, too).

This is film-making at its cheapest, at its nastiest, and at its most self-indulgent. Ignore it - - hopefully it'll quickly go away.

During this period of vitality for the British film industry, it's horribly sobering to realise that tat like this is still being greenlighted. Parting Shots makes Carry On Columbus look like The Ladykillers. If you can get your head round that.

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