Rating: Not Rated
Director: Gerard Johnson
Starring: Peter Ferdinando, Stephen Graham, Neil Maskell
Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes
What It Is: Respected by both sides of the law, Detective Sergeant Michael Logan lines his pockets through rapacious extortion and drug dealing whilst simultaneously scaling the ranks of law enforcement. When Albanian and Turkish gangs begin to tighten their grip over London’s vicious underbelly, things swiftly spiral out of control. With no one to turn to, Logan takes a ruthless course of action that leads to irrevocable consequences.
What We Think: There’s an old adage that if you lie with dogs, you get fleas. In the case of Michael (Peter Ferdinando), the lead character in writer/director Gerard Johnson’s London-based Hyena, he’s a cop who wants to be the hero who fights evil-doers. But at the same time, he uses his badge and gang of equally crooked cops to knock over drug dealers and steal their stuff to fuel epic, late-night parties and pad his bank account. As Michael soon learns, you can’t have it both ways.
Moral platitudes aside, Hyena is a compelling and frequently intense look at a bunch of seedy guys doing seedy things until real-life consequences show up to bite them in the arse. While the film opens on Michael and his crew sharpening up and delivering a bit of the old ultra-violence on a drug ring before stealing the contraband and partying down, we soon discover Michael has bigger plans than just raiding local drug rings and splitting the spoils for the rest of his life. No, he has a bigger score in mind, and it involves siphoning a big chunk of cash and product off a group of Turks who are major traffickers in the area.
The strongest character in the film is Ferdinando’s Michael, who really does a fine job being pushed and pulled by the strong dichotomy of the life he’s chosen. His sad eyes and chubby, exhausted face tells the story of a man who knows right from wrong, but keeps trying to do both and finds that not only can you not work both sides of the moral fence forever, but that there are severe consequences for those who try.
If you like ass-kicking onscreen, this is a film for you. It also gets incredibly gory and difficult to watch as the plot spirals into the intense disaster for literally every character we meet, save the Turks. Yet the gore and intensity never feel self-serving or done for exploitation’s sake. Rather, it was to show just how far in over his head Michael and his merry band of reprobates have found themselves. And it’s deep.
Our Grade: C, This film often seems like a crummy Guy Ritchie knockoff by way of Scorsese, but then tries to go the art film route as well with open-ended questions, motivations, and scenes. Overall, it’s a worthy watch for fans of violent films, but in the end, it’s a bit all over the place.