Screenwriter Leon Butler has crafted some promising puzzle pieces for this multi-stranded ensemble drama set in present-day London.
The title is taken from a poem called The Oldest Thing in London by Cicely Fox Smith, about the Thames staying eternally constant while “A thousand landmarks perish / A hundred streets grow strange …” The film has some intriguing characters, subplots, situations. Frustratingly, though, the complete jigsaw doesn’t fit together, hampered by plot implausibilities and unrealities.
Producer-star Idris Elba plays retired rugby player Max, in danger of becoming a seedy celeb has-been who cheats on his wife. Elba can’t help being charismatic: as an actor, he’s a big gun and goes off with a loud bang, but it’s finally a misfire as he gets involved with a melodramatic and frankly ridiculous standoff with police. Max is married to Emily (Gemma Arterton) a former up-and-coming stage actor, unhappy to have abandoned her career to be a glorified WAG for a guy who’s unfaithful, and now herself involved with besotted former friend Jake (Tom Cullen). Her connection with respected theatre professional Terrence (Ken Stott) brings her into contact with Kingsley (Franz Drameh), a troubled yet talented young guy mixed up in drugs. We are finally asked to believe that the theatre is a clear way out of crime for Kingsley, but in the real world he would find himself still wanted as a witness or even accessory to a brutal slaying. The film’s potential is not quite realised.
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