In recent years the British film industry has swung between making horror movies and gangster films. Vinnie Jones, former football player, (or soccer for the US) and star of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels returns to London’s criminal underworld in a new genre for a British film – the conspiracy thriller. There’s just one tiny problem, The Riddle isn’t very good.
Jones plays a down on his luck journalist whose friend and local pub owner Sadie dies in what looks like a suicide. However, Vinnie’s having none of it as she left him a riddle on his answer phone the previous evening. Oh, I forgot, shortly before her death she also discovered a lost manuscript by Charles Dickens which shares a title with the film.
The Riddle could have been a good film. There‘s an interesting gem of an idea lurking beneath the surface here, but the script and acting let the film down. Jones just can’t carry a film, especially one as poorly written as this. Trying to make Jones a romantic lead is equally unsuccessful as he shares zero chemistry with co-star Julie Cox. There’s a pretty good supporting cast including Derek Jacobi (in dual roles as Charles Dickens and a homeless man) and Vanessa Redgrave: their performances only highlight Jones’ lack of skill in the thespian department.
Brendan Foley’s film tries to be the British equivalent of All The Presidents Men meets The DaVinci Code, but it lacks pace, thrills and any real revelation. The film also looks like every scene was shot on the same mile stretch of London’s Dock Lands, which is not a totally unattractive place – but you can’t call it cinematically captivating for two hours.
Writer-director Brendan Foley must be applauded for thinking outside the box as far as British films go – but he just hasn’t made an entertaining film. The idea is solid, but the script, acting and flat visuals let the film down. The Riddle is for diehard fans of Vinnie Jones and London’s Docklands only.
There’s about fifteen minutes of deleted scenes or “outtakes” as they’re called here. They add a few new strands to the plot and they were obviously deleted for pacing reasons. There’s also a trailer for the film. Not an awful lot, but not bad for a low budget effort.