Prolific British actor Adam Deacon (“Anuvahood”) flexes his growing star power to anchor the undistinguished London crime drama “Payback Season,” playing one of the world’s shorter professional soccer players, a rough diamond whose checkered past returns to haunt him. This first major production from urban-music entrepreneur Danny Donnelly’s Pure label doesn’t match its premier-league ambition, and is let down by generic material that’s light on both action and persuasive plotting. A 70-print U.K. release may lack penetration theatrically, but an extra-time recovery in ancillary looks to be a safe bet.Jerome (Deacon) is a sports star with a swanky loft apartment and white Ferrari convertible. A visit to his mother and younger brother in their tough housing project reconnects him with his former crew, led by Alpha male Baron (David Ajala). But Baron’s request for a loan soon turns into regular extortion, and Jerome’s association with the gang threatens to sully his media image and derail his budding romance with journalist Lisa (Nichola Burley, “StreetDance”). Deacon remains a likable presence whose presumably modest soccer talents are never depicted. Donnelly’s soundtrack cuts (including Nero, Maverick Sabre) are on the ball.
A Revolver Entertainment release of a Pure Film Prods. presentation in association with Angry Badger Prods. (International sales: Pure Film, London.) Produced by Danny Donnelly, Justin King, John Adams. Executive producers, Donnelly, King, Jason Maza. Directed by Danny Donnelly. Screenplay, Donnelly, Jenny Fitzpatrick.
Camera (color, widescreen, HD) James Martin; editors, Oliver Parker, Will Gilbey; music, Jason Kaye; music supervisor, Donnelly; production designer, Paul Burns; art director, Jen Green; costume designer, Alex Watherston. Reviewed at Revolver, London, Feb. 23, 2012. Running time: 91 MIN.
Adam Deacon, Nichola Burley, David Ajala, Leo Gregory, Bronson Webb, Ike Hamilton, Arnold Oceng, Billy Seymour, Liam Donnelly, Alex Esmail, Geoff Hurst, Anna Popplewell.