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The Man Inside

The Man Inside

Released 27 July 2012
Director Dan Turner
Starring


Ashley Thomas, David Harewood, Peter Mullan, Michelle Ryan
Writer(s) Dan Turner
Producer(s) Dean Fisher
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 99 minutes
Genre Crime, drama, thriller
Rating TBC
56

Raging Bull.

Released during the Olympics with a boxer on the poster, some might think The Man Inside is a feel good sporting movie in the vein of Rocky. But in reality it is the exact opposite of this.

The Man Inside is essentially a nature versus nurture story that looks at a simple question, “What is evil?” And, from that, “Can someone be made evil?” Troubled protagonist Clayton Murdoch (Ashley Thomas) is haunted by the memory of his abusive father, and struggles to channel his aggression into boxing. When the gang culture he first encountered in childhood threatens to drag his younger brother and sister into danger, Clayton’s suppressed rage begins to boil over.

Like Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, this film depicts the inherent undercurrent of violence that permeates everyday life, and how such violence can erupt to the surface at any time. Clayton is not an evil character, but his own past and circumstances threatens to unleash his potential for evil acts.

Despite the sport of boxing being framed as a metaphor for the controlled release of violence in our society, the film itself features very little actual boxing. This isn’t a Rocky style inspirational story. There are no montages.

Instead The Man Inside is an uncomfortable frank and at times overwhelming film. Tension builds gradually, and when the violence is finally unleashed, it is gritty, visceral and difficult to watch.

However The Man Inside is let down by one fatal flaw. Contrary to the title, the film doesn’t rely on the subtly of the lead actor’s performance to paint a portrait of “the man inside”. Instead there is an over-reliance on an abundance of spoken emotions. Characters literally describe their feelings to each other in speeches that drag in length and don’t give the audience any credit in the understanding of subtlety.

This problem is jarring right from the start, and by the film’s finale it is downright annoying. There is still much to recommend The Man Inside, it has a genuinely powerful message and some truly memorable imagery throughout, but the over-written dialogue holds it back from what it could have been.

- Bernard O’Rourke