You've run out of options, no school, no job. Steal a car, smash a shop with a heavy car and reap the proceeds! This movie is about underground England. The causes, the benefits, and the res... Read allYou've run out of options, no school, no job. Steal a car, smash a shop with a heavy car and reap the proceeds! This movie is about underground England. The causes, the benefits, and the result of a life of 'crash and carry.'You've run out of options, no school, no job. Steal a car, smash a shop with a heavy car and reap the proceeds! This movie is about underground England. The causes, the benefits, and the result of a life of 'crash and carry.'
"Shopping" is mostly remembered for being a noteworthy early film credit for its two leads, as well as being the directorial debut of a then-29-year-old Brit named Paul Anderson (who now goes by "Paul W.S. Anderson" to avoid confusion with American filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson). Paul Anderson would later gain worldwide recognition just one year later for his American film debut, "Mortal Kombat" (1995), which is a film I love to death and to this day I still consider it to be the greatest film adaptation of a video game.
"Shopping" is a stylish, yet promising debut for Anderson, whose career has since been a wildly mixed bag of occasional high points ("Mortal Kombat," "Event Horizon," "Resident Evil") and several missteps ("Soldier," "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" and virtually every "Resident Evil" sequel he's directed, pretty much).
"Shopping," nonetheless, showcases what would later become Anderson trademarks: excellent set design and cinematography, fast-paced direction, and a wall-to-wall soundtrack with an industrial/techno vibe to it (Orbital's "Halycon + On + On," which is featured in the film several times, appears to be a personal favorite of Anderson's, since the song was also played near the end of his later "Mortal Kombat"). "Shopping" is set sometime in the not-too-distant future in London, and centers around the so-called "sport" of "shopping" - stealing high-priced cars and then ramming them through department store windows, looting them, and then evading the police.
Billy (Jude Law) is probably the most notorious of these young, early 20-something ram-raiding punks. He, along with his casual love interest, the video game-loving Jo (Sadie Frost, Law's future real-life wife), hit the streets (and stores) after he gets released from prison at the beginning of the film after doing three months for auto theft. Although it doesn't take long for Billy to fall back into old habits once released, his "shopping sprees" are becoming more and more ambitious, and reckless, as his targets become bigger and bigger. As the stakes rise and his notoriety grows, it catches the attention of his old rival Tommy (Sean Pertwee, an Anderson regular), for whom the sport of "shopping" is a business, since Tommy makes money selling off the goods he steals. For Billy, it's nothing more than an Adrenalin rush that he claims is better than any drug and is to a degree (for him, at least), an art-form. So it inevitably sets the two of them down a path toward a head-on collision.
"Shopping" is a stylish and ambitious debut feature from Paul Anderson that established many of his trademarks - most notably his love for industrial music, and this film revels in its striking industrial-futuristic ambiance - but also shows his weaknesses, namely weak characterization, spotty writing and story. His non-written directorial works ("Mortal Kombat," "Event Horizon," and even the hokey "Soldier") were better showcases for Anderon's strengths as a director because he didn't have screen-writing credits attached to these pictures, but instead worked because of his stylish, fast-paced direction. Here, Jude Law and Sadie Frost give stellar and enthusiastic performances in roles for which they were young and relatively unknown to American audiences (at the time), and have since become more widely known.
Watching "Shopping" for the first time since I was a child, it's an impressive debut from Paul W.S. Anderson, in spite of his flaws (of which there are many), and is something that can happen with any early effort from any director.
- Sep 21, 2017