“You took my shopping and then you took my virginity”
Oh lordy, I have no idea what Noel Clarke is like as a person but on this evidence he is in desperate need of someone to tell him ‘no son, no’. Having shown promise with his earlier work, 18.104.22.168. sees Clarke moving onto what he sees as the next level , it just so happens that it is the next level down rather than up. A brash would-be comedy thriller that dreams so dreadfully of transatlantic success and yet comes off as exploitative try-hard, depressingly manipulative and a laughable vanity project.
Even at its base, it is a disappointment. The structure of the film follows four young friends as they deal with a particularly hectic time involving some gangsters and a bag of conflict diamonds they’ve nicked. Clarke retells the story from each woman’s point of view, a tried and tested device, but one which is wasted here – the narratives are kept essentially separate with no sophisticated intersection or interplay in the storytelling that would actually justify the format.
On top of that though is the gratuitous characterisation – the hot lesbian one, the hot classical pianist, the hot artist, the hot other one. They never once feel like a group of people who would ever talk to each other, never mind be close pals, and with a number of underwear-clad sequences and numerous sex scenes (including an extended lesbian, yeah boys!!) there’s a depressing sense of the deliberate nod to the teenage freeze-frame market rather than any discerning film-watcher.
With woeful dialogue, irrelevant subplots and a colossal waste of acting talent – Helen McCrory, Sean Pertwee, Susannah Fielding, Michelle Ryan, Kevin Smith, Mandy bloody Patinkin all appear in cameos – it’s hard not to despair at how this got made. At the point at which Clarke’s own character gets told he’s a sexy looking guy who is undoubtedly well-hung, it all becomes crystal clear, he’s surrounded himself with a bunch of yes-men who don’t give a shit he’s embarrassing himself and all concerned.