13 March 2019 | tomgillespie2002
A true forgotten British gem
Indicator are a small British blu-ray label who seem to have made it their ultimate goal to unearth some of the best and weirdest forgotten gems from Britain's cinematic past, routinely releasing titles I've never even heard of that turn out to be well worthy of a remaster and rediscovery. One such title is Jack Gold's The Reckoning, a tough, lean thriller about a no-nonsense businessman who travels up North seeking vengeance. Sound familiar? The Reckoning has been compared to Get Carter, which was released the following year, and the two films certainly share some similarities. Yet tonally and thematically the two are worlds apart, with Gold's film more eager to explore class divide and national identity than Carter's more straightforward revenge fantasy. The Reckoning may also be the better film: a punishing experience full of off-putting characters that leaves more of a lasting impression than what many consider to be Michael Caine's finest hour.
It tells the story of Mick Marler (Nicol Williamson), a corporate ball-buster who has worked his way up the ladder over the years with a combination of ruthless business savvy and sheer intimidation. He seems satisfied with his high income and strong social standing, but also has a button-pushing, gold-digging wife (Ann Bell) to contend with. After putting the pieces in place for a business manoeuvre that will favour both himself and his boss (as well as doing away with his biggest rival), Mick heads up north to Liverpool to visit his working-class Irish family. Immediately upon arrival, he discovers his father has died from a heart attack, but is disturbed when he discovers bruising on his father's body. After doing some digging, Mick learns that his father got into a fight with some English 'teddy boys', suffering the fatal heart attack after being punched and kicked to the ground by one of the gang. With his Irish blood boiling inside of him, Mick decides that he must avenge his father, but he also has responsibilities back home.
Torn between his two worlds, Mick goes on a journey of self-discovery that ultimately makes him even more loathsome. When he is in the South, he laughs at the idea of being bound by blood and tradition to avenge his father, but when he is back North, a beast is awoken inside him, and he is irresistibly drawn to embracing his primitive instincts. It's a tough, ugly film that asks you to stick with this part-thug, part-corporate psychopath for just shy of two hours, but John McGrath's screenplay - based on the novel by Patrick Hall - trusts the audience to at least try to understand the man who breezes between two equally brutal, yet entirely different, worlds. This isn't action-packed or even violent as you would expect from a man-on-a-revenge-mission movie, but takes its time to develop this hateful yet fascinating character who used his working-class upbringing to batter his way into the world of lavish dinner parties and fast cars, and was both intrigued and repulsed by what he found. Williamson is excellent, managing to emote both outer ferocity and inner turmoil at the same time, and it's a puzzle why the actor didn't go on to land bigger roles. While it's chaotic at times, The Reckoning is a true forgotten gem that highlights how important the work carried out by Indicator really is.