Jackdaw  (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Jamie Childs, UK, 2023, 97 mins

Cast:  Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jenna Coleman, Joe Blackemore, Thomas Turgoose

Review by Carol Allen

Jackdaw is an action thriller set and shot in North East England, whose hero Jack Dawson (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a tough guy army veteran and motorcross champion so there are lots of scenes featuring him on a motor bike being chased by villains.

Writer/director Jamie Childs and cinematographer Will Baldy manage to produce some very interesting visuals on what is by film standards probably a pretty low budget.  The opening credit sequence is particularly striking as Jack, on the instruction of a local criminal, is searching at night in the wind fields of the North Sea for a mysterious package.   His search, diving in the freezing water with the giant wind turbines towering over him and then swimming for his life while being chased by an unknown assailant on jet skis , is really striking.

As Silas (Joe Blackemore), the local criminal who hired him for the task, is reluctant to pay Jack, the basis of the plot is Jack racing around the North East town and country with the package and Silas and his henchmen in pursuit.   Not a lot of complex plotting and dialogue that is not always clear due to the strong regional accent and the fact that for much of the film Jack’s face is hidden behind his motor cycle helmet (safety first here).   The chase sequences are though very thrillingly shot with a lot of atmosphere created by lights glaring into the camera. 

Later in the film Jack links up with his ex-girlfriend Bo (Jemma Coleman), first spotting her at an atmospheric rave, then later at the very visually interesting pad, which she shares with a couple of co-biker girlfriends and which later becomes the scene of a bloodletting battle with the baddies.   The furniture there is rather striking, featuring a still decorated Christmas tree and some interesting pieces such as an antique looking harmonium, which plays no part in the plot whatsoever.  At the rave he also meets perky, motor mouthed Craig (Thomas Turgoose), who tries to help Jack find his younger brother, who appears to have been kidnapped by the villain.  And most striking of all is Silas himself, sporting long, greasy blond hair and floor length overcoat,  who behaves like a guitar smashing minor rock star left over from the seventies.  The fact that his vehicle of choice is a rather handsome horse makes him even more camply intriguing. 

The story doesn’t actually make a lot of sense, particularly in its resolution.  And a lot of it is very violent, but we’re well used to that these days.  It does though look really great and in a rather off kilter kind of way, it’s actually rather fun.