Comparisons with Alan Clarke's justly venerated British reform-school classic "Scum" (1979) are unlikely to flatter new entrants to the genre, but feature debutant Ron Scalpello bravely attempts a 21st-century spin with modestly accomplished drama "Offender."

Comparisons with Alan Clarke’s justly venerated British reform-school classic “Scum” (1979) are unlikely to flatter new entrants to the genre, but feature debutant Ron Scalpello bravely attempts a 21st-century spin with modestly accomplished drama “Offender.” Set in a young perps’ institute, the pic benefits from an engrossing, if hardly original, vigilante-justice storyline, and an impressive perf from lead Joe Cole (TV’s “Skins”). Item broke into Blighty’s B.O. top 10 in a soft late-summer frame, but is unlikely to spark riots offshore. Rehabilitation awaits on domestic ancillary.

“Offender” begins with dead-eyed young thug Tommy (Cole) assaulting a cop, but all is not as it seems. Flashbacks show a sensitive young man doting on his pregnant girlfriend (Kimberley Nixon) before a vicious attack causes her to miscarry and then push him away. Conveniently landing in the same institute as the men he believes to be responsible, Tommy must now work out which to kill last. Points about the shortcomings of the prison system are interwoven with some subtlety, a quality lacking in the depiction of a sadistic guard (Shaun Dooley). Working title was “Feltham,” Britain’s most notorious jail for male juvies.

Offender

U.K.-U.S.

Production

A Revolver Entertainment (in U.K.) release of a Revolver Entertainment presentation of a Revolver RDT Film Partners, Gunslinger Film, RDT Prods. co-production in association with Arnaud Lannic, Met Film and IM Global. (International sales: IM Global, London.) Produced by Nick Taussig, Paul Van Carter. Executive producers, Justin Marciano, Rhys Thomas, Stephen E. Mitchell, Stuart Ford, Carlo Dusi. Co-producers, Jonathan Deckter, Laurence Brown, Yogita Puri. Co-executive producer, Phil Hope. Directed by Ron Scalpello. Screenplay, Paul Van Carter.

Crew

Camera (color, HD) Richard Mott; editor, Johnny Rayner; music, Chad Hobson; music supervisor, Matt Biffa; production designer, Marie Lanna; art director, Dave Tremlett; set decorator, Celia Lusted; costume designer, Matthew Price, sound, Ashok-Kumar Kumar; supervising sound editor, Stephen Goldsmith; rerecording mixer, Vincent Watts; technical advisor, Cyle Carth; stunt coordinator, Jason White; line producer, Kate Glover; associate producers, Arnaud Lannic, Alex Georgiou, James Merchant, Sarah Akwisombe, Debbie Taussig, Richard Turner; assistant director, James Nunn; second unit director, Deane Thrussell; casting, Jane Ripley. Reviewed at Revolver, London, July 17, 2012. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Joe Cole, Frank "English Frank" Cobban, Kimberley Nixon, Shaun Dooley, Tyson Oba, David Ajala, Heider Ali, Jacob Anderson, Vas Blackwood, Gordon "G. Frsh" Egwu, Mark Harris, Ruth Gemmell, Daniel Kendrick, Malachi Kirby, Tayo "Scorcher" Jarrett.

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