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Review: Level Up – “A bruisingly fun video game made real”


Level Up is a home grown action thriller starring Josh Bowman (Revenge), Neil Maskell (Kill List) and Leila Mimmack (TV’s Home Fires), and written and directed by first-timer Adam Randall.

Matt (Bowman) is a directionless twenty-something, and one half of a young couple living in London. After an unsuccessful date night with his girlfriend, Anna (Mimmack), they finish on bad terms – with him not being able to resist playing video games instead of going to bed.

The next morning, masked thugs kidnap Anna before beating up Matt and strapping him into a bulletproof vest containing a package and a mobile phone. Matt is told that if he wants to see his girlfriend alive again he must follow the instructions being delivered to him via text and deliver the package to Dmitri (Maskell).

Over the course of one, high-octane day Matt makes his way across an increasingly strange and sinister London as a host of different characters, challenges and situations attempt to prevent him from succeeding in his mission. But to what end is he being played, and is he the only player?

Very gritty, very high concept, and very joyfully British, Level Up is a bruisingly fun video game made real. It is not exactly “edgy”, but is certainly on the edge. The film has a delightful tendency to go somewhere, or do something, you’re not expecting – while also revelling in its Englishness with villains wearing tea cosy balaclavas who end their death threats with an “okey dokey”.

The DVD is OK, the picture quality is serviceable for standard def, but at times lacks sharpness and detail, and there is some digital noise and mosquitoing that won’t be on the Blu-Ray. The 5.1 audio is perfectly fine, with lots of lovely enveloping oomph from the rear surround channels when any action kicks off.

There are also plenty of extras that cover all the bases from talking to the actors to examining the setting, the costuming, the effects work and even some bloopers. Here’s the full line-up: ‘5 minutes with Leo Pearlman’,‘10 minutes with Plaid’, ‘Adam Randall and Eben Bolten’, ‘Around London’, ‘Cast & Crew’, ‘Costume Design’, ‘Estate Flat Tour’, ‘Fun On Set’, ‘Edit Process’, ‘SFX’, ‘Taxi Bloopers’, ‘Matt’s Character’ and ‘Through Screens’.

A British ‘Crank’ for the GTA generation, Level Up is the kind of fun British action movie it would be nice if we did more often. Bowman is a likeable everyman lead that you should expect to see tons more of, Maskell does a lot with only a little screen time, and writer-director Adam Randall keeps things light on their toes and quick on their feet as the film barrels through modern London.



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