The Intent, 2016.
Directed by Femi Oyeniran and Kalvadour Peterson.
Starring Femi Oyeniran, Dylan Duffus, Scorcher, Shone Romulus, Jade Asha, Nicky Slimting Walker, Sarah Akokhia, Fredi Nwaka, Michelle Greenidge, and Sharea Samuels.
An undercover cop infiltrates a London street gang that calls themselves the TIC. Their operations transform from petty drug deals to a string of armed robberies.
Femi Oyeniran writes, directs, and produces this film as well as star as the voice of reason Mitch who chooses to no longer affiliate himself with the TIC. One can definitely see Oyeniran’s influences from his better-known roles in Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood and Adulthood as modern slang and a grime soundtrack that abounds this film. Where those films had a director that would assert some semblance of discipline over their actors, Oyeniran appears to have given his actors the freedom to ad-lib much of the dialogue. Too often a character will repeat the denominations of ‘mate’ or ‘friend’ in a singular exchange.
Leader Hoodz (Scorcher) dictates the TIC crews operations whose ruthless ambition for greater gain is only matched by his unapologetic violence. After the first shooting at a newsagent that goes awry, which results in the death of clerk Naeema’s (Jade Asha) mother, Hoodz comes to view death as incidental, albeit forces himself accept this new reality. This does not bode with Mitch who opts to leave TIC and seldom returns to the story. The third prominent TIC crew member Gunz (Dylan Duff) is uncomfortable but his own agenda to take down key players in the underworld forces him to compromise: he is an undercover police officer after all.
Hoodz trust in Gunz sets up the potential to present tense moments of Gunz’s secret identity slipping, but the film instead meanders through a series of faux-macho set pieces. Throw into the mix heavily undercooked double-dealings, and what’s left is a witless street-crime film that lacks a visceral punch. There is an astounding shootout at a car mechanics that conveys the bloodshed in full glory, a peek into the film’s aesthetic potential. The slog-pacing earlier will shock audiences into paying attention, if only for a moment.
The TIC successfully pulls off sting operation, resulting in over one million pounds of stone-cold cash and many kgs of cocaine. It doesn’t take long before word permeates the underworld, and concoct a plan to take Hoodz’s bounty, and his life. Their motivations are simple to make the interconnectedness of this milieu easy to follow, but some of the characters are only giving the briefest of screen time. All emotional impact of their inner-turmoil or the threat of their mortality is lost. Tying these character sub-plots together are montages of Hoodz’s success that are glamorised with a music video aesthetic.
Femi Oyeniran’s The Intent is definitely a passion project sprinkled with Christian morality and a bookended narrative that oozes dramatic irony. It’s the repetitive dialogue and overlong scenes, along with flashes of character identity that squander its own potential.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★