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Slotting comfortably into the generic mould created by more memorable predecessors, Craig Viveiros’s feature length debut, Ghosted, is all you would expect from a standard prison drama. A haunted and weathered John Lynch plays Jack, the model prisoner at the end of his stretch attempting to protect new inmate Paul (Martin Compston) from the influence of the sneering prison psychopath, Clay, menacingly portrayed by Craig Parkinson.

Although this film does not deviate far from the typical themes of revenge and redemption, it is solid and engaging, with an intriguing story and absorbing characters brought to life by a watchable cast. Strong, believable performances from a medley of proven British actors combine with the confident, skilful direction of Viveiros, creating an uneasy simmering tension which drives the narrative. Familiar issues are handled in an interesting, understated manner that lends a shocking subtly to the more disturbing scenes. This is used to greatest effect during the climax, where the suggestion of brutality that accompanies an unsurprising twist gives the film an emotional impact that prevents it from falling at the final hurdle.

However, the prison slang, threatening mumblings and angry growlings that are no doubt realistic, sometimes make the nuances of the plot and back-story difficult to follow. This disrupts the narrative flow and pulls the focus away from the drama.

Though the main characters are well developed, there are a few interesting figures, such as Ahmed (Art Malik of True Lies fame) and Ade (Hugh Quarshie from Star Wars Episode I), that are disappointingly under-used. Though they initially appear to have narrative significance, Viveiros fails to capitalise on their potential, meaning that these familiar on-screen presences never amount to anything more than a passing distraction.

Whilst Ghosted isn’t about to herald a new generation of modern prison dramas, it is a well crafted and engaging character drama that will entertain and satisfy fans of the genre.

 

Best performance: John Lynch.

Both Art Malik and Hugh Quarshie appeared in Holby City, playing Zubin Khan and Rick Griffin.

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