Writer: Steve Lawson
Producers: Steve Lawson, Simon Wyndham
Cast: Steve Lawson, Clive Ward, Chris Jones, Me!
Year of release: 2002
Reviewed from: screener DVD
Official site: www.steve-lawson.net
Insiders holds the honour of being the first independent full-length martial arts feature film produced in the UK - and I'm in it!
Yes, this indie feature marks my acting debut as a policeman called 'Sergeant Moore' but let's skip over that and address the film itself. Insiders is a thriller about retired hitman John Carter (Steve Lawson) who worked for a shadowy organisation called, um, The Organisation, but has now been given a new identity and is trying to live a peaceful life with his wife and baby.
His past catches up with him when he returns home to find said wife and baby murdered. The police question him as the prime suspect and even though he is entirely innocent he is unable to provide an alibi because he was actually down the gym working out with a former colleague named Karl Loveberg (Clive Ward) - which he shouldn't have been doing because former Organisation agents are supposed to cut themselves off entirely from their previous lives.
Loveberg springs Carter from the cops but who can they turn to when other former Organisation agents start turning up dead? Someone is bumping off anyone who might know anything about The Organisation: could it be a former colleague or The Organisation itself? Can Carter and Loveberg even trust each other?
In amongst all this intrigue are a series of well-choreographed fights. Organisation agents are trained to use their fists and their feet before pulling a gun and all those involved in these action sequences are trained martial artists. Fortunately, my scene was a bit more sedate... that's me, standing behind Inspector Travis (Roger Jones) during the police interrogation. (I'm also a radio newsreader and doubled for another character in the final scene - that's my hand holding the baseball bat in close-up.)
Steve Lawson has been making increasingly professional shorts and features for a few years now and this is his best yet, showing a distinct maturity over earlier movies such as Thunderstrike. Working on video with a tiny budget, but with an intelligent script that refrains from becoming overly complicated, Lawson and co-director Simon Wyndham have crafted an enjoyable, exciting, action-packed and intelligent thriller that never tries to outreach itself. If there's a downside it's that Lawson, who is actually in his late twenties (I think), looks like he has barely started shaving. Youthful good looks can be a boon for an actor - but he seems awfully young to be a professional hitman, let alone a retired one!
Wyndham and Lawson, who both make guest appearances in fight scenes in Left for Dead, are now in post-production on the second film from their Phoenix-i production company, The Silencer. Unfortunately - or fortunately, perhaps - I wasn't able to snag a bit part in that one.
MJS rating: B+
review originally posted 1st June 2005