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DVD Review - HE WHO DARES: DOWNING STREET SIEGE

A discharged SAS man must free Downing Street from the terrorists who have taken over Number 10.

Directed by: Paul Tanter

Starring: Tom Benedict Knight, Simon Phillips, Russell Kilmister, Merissa Porter




Cheapie Brit lad-flick He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege moves with the ruthless, reckless speed of its central character, ace ex-SAS hard man Chris Lowe (Tom Benedict Knight); improvising madly as it goes, taking no prisoners along the way, and holding no truck with protocol.
The film is a quickie sequel to 2014’s He Who Dares, and again comes courtesy of writer/director/producer and lad-flick auteur Paul Tanter. If you’ve seen Downing Street’s predecessor, then you know exactly what to expect; a high pressure situation, burly blokes doling out beatings and bants, and an everyman hero who doesn’t kowtow to authority but nonetheless gets the job done. This time round, after rescuing the prime minister’s daughter in the first film, Lowe has been called to Downing Street to be stripped of his SAS credentials. The contrivance is that Lowe is to be dishonourably discharged from the SAS for disobeying a direct order, which he only did to save the daughter in the first place! Those stuffed shirts in the big house, eh? Someone should sort them out.
As misfortune would have it, someone does attempt to do just this; media savvy terrorist Holt (Simon Phillips) chooses this very day to mount a blockade upon Downing Street, and only the cool ferocity of Lowe can defeat him. Why does Holt attempt to enact such an elaborate coup? Well, having watched the film twice through, it still isn’t entirely clear, but it has something to do with holding the fat cats to account, for the state of broken Britain. Or perhaps it involves a ransom. Thing is, Paul Tanter isn’t making a film that invites serious discussion, or even one that subscribes to plausible plot logic. What Tanter is aspiring towards is the sort of post-pub movie that you can stick on with a few mates and a couple of beers and just enjoy the heck out of: and if that is the goal, then he’s played a blinder. Saying that, the circumstances I saw He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege under were not ideal- Sunday afternoon, alone, with a glass of apple juice- and even I found lots to appreciate. Holt is utterly superb as the villain, his barbed camp performance electrifying the film. The actual taking of Downing Street is good value too, with explosions, people in camo sneaking up on guards and silently slitting their necks, roomfuls of faceless politicians gunned down indiscriminately. Following a particularly ostentatious show of violent force, as if speaking for the audience, a character asks ‘was that completely necessary?’ Well, the answer is no, but it was fun. And therein lies the appeal of the film; He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege, a movie that is amusing and ridiculous in roughly equal measure.
There is always a determined everyman appeal to Tanter’s DTVs. Sure enough, as Lowe makes his way through 10 Downing Street to liberate the Prime Minister (following the blueprint laid down by Die Hard all those years ago…), he battles not only against the cruel theatrics of Holt, but the venal bureaucracy of the establishment. Authority figures are not to be trusted here; Holt’s cockamamie strategy involves a ransom of 1.46 million, which matches (in the film’s universe) the government’s Public Relations budget, and the powers that be dither like a bunch of pansies while Holt alternates between either ordering them around or simply shooting them dead. Our only certainty is the pitiless brutality of Lowe, as he slashes and shoots his way to the PM; which is a shame, as the hero of He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege is nowhere near as interesting as the villain.
If you were of a mind to, there is a lot to He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege to pick holes in; the charisma imbalance between the hero and the villain, the irritating way in which Tanter attempts to add urgency to scenes by making his camera jitter and zoom, and, most jarringly, when Lowe and the ersatz Bond girl Cassie (Merissa Porter) show down, perhaps the most unconvincing martial arts sequence ever committed to film.
But there is much more to be entertained by, not least of all the film’s resolute Britishness; jokes make allusions to politicians referring to police as ‘plebs’, and a terrorist name checks the time that Eastenders is scheduled (not ‘on a Wednesday’). He Who Dares: Downing Street Siege has its niche target audience so tightly in its crosshairs, and caters so exclusively and gleefully to it, that I imagine the film would be mystifying to any other audience.
So, unlike Lowe, he of the inflexible integrity, for my summative score I’m going to compromise and I dare say that I’ll award a
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