I Against I features a clear homage to Michael Mann’s well-respected thriller Heat (1995): two of the main characters pull over at the same time on the road and enter a cafe, this is the first time they will meet and it’s a crucial moment. But whereas Mann’s film had built up and fleshed out its central characters to the point where the tension was huge – although it admittedly didn’t hurt that this would be the first time that Al Pacino and Robert De Niro would meet on screen – in i Against i there’s nothing of the sort.
Despite this failure, the premise can not be found at fault. Two men, Ian (Kenny Doughty) and Isaac (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson), are hired to kill each other by Joseph Carmichael (Mark Womack) after his father is found dead and both men are caught leaving the scene. Trouble is, things get a lot more complicated than that and the film seems to buckle under the pressure. For instance there’s a third party, comprised of two drug dealers, that enters proceedings randomly and then exits ten minutes later, confusing everything and everyone – audience included.
Directing and writing team Mark Cripps, David Ellison and James Marquand needed to take a breather here so we could spend some time with Ian and Isaac. Yes, brief attempts are made for us to get to know them, Isaac has pills he must take, but ultimately these threads go nowhere.
They ought to be commended, however, for their success in making London seem like such an icy, atmospheric place. Their city feels dark, literally and metaphorically seeing as everything is filmed at night, and unforgiving. In the end i Against i succeeds at creating a sense of place like its forbears Heat (1995) and The French Connection (1971), but its story lacks the weight of those titans and so falls short of its lofty aims.
Joshua has awarded i Against i two Torches of Truth.