Over on ‘flix, somehow the English were allowed to leave their island and film in sunny Barcelona! Alas, they don’t use a lot of local talent. Two of the actors are Spanish-English, one is actually Spanish, the rest are all very British and in many cases so pasty they can’t have been there more than a few days, the show’s in English for the most part.
The first few episodes are dull but building a bit, Erin (Evin Ahmad) is a substitute schoolteacher who came here with a child, married a nice Spanish nurse Jordi (Sean Teale), wacky divorced cop neighbor Emilio (Pep Ambròs); the latter two are the only ones who can have a convincing conversation en Español. Bitchy rich neighbor Penelope (Charlotte Vega) is the scene-stealer, everything she does is so arch and hilarious. There’s a ongoing tragedy of her life that’s playing in the background scenes, and she should really be the star of her soap opera. Her final scene (she’s fine; minor spoiler but nothing could ever harm or defeat Penelope) is just awesome. Like WTF show are we watching? Who’s this Erin chick?
Back to the buildup, there’s a holdup Erin foils with excessive skills and what passes for an accidental kill. Then a chick knife fight, which isn’t amazing but it’s something. Why does Margot know & hate Erin? Pretty soon one murder leads to a favor and Erin’s… not a schoolteacher.
There’s a strong vibe of A History of Violence, la femme Nikita (or the dozen shitty remake/ripoffs), and by the end a lot of John Woo homage/ripoff/why do mooks always hide behind explosive barrels? Flashbacks give us some context, and the spooky horns person seen in child Harper’s dreams & pictures.
Erin’s skills and toughness start at “buff soccer mom” and rapidly escalate to Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgement Day + The Killer. Most people around her keep trying to fuck her over and take the kid, and do not have plot immunity. There is one incredibly cool, classy kung fu fight in a dress. Keep watching for that. It is the entire point of the film to make this fight happen. The final big warzone is more John Woo. Hug, “take care of OUR daughter”, BOOM.
The few parts set in England are dark, grim, dirty, and horrible, warehouses and alleys, treachery and distrust and neglect, like just the worst underground dystopian shithole (film what you know). Barcelona is infinitely prettier. It’s a very incidental setting initially, with a honkie-populated suburb and English-speaking school, but they do get better at using it creatively and showing local flavor later. The car chase through tight streets and a lot of empty boxes & water jugs flying around is great fun. Escapes from buildings always involve parkour over pretty rooftops. This is a “come visit Spain!” puff piece, but they should spend time on history of Catalonia if they want to get more Spanish tourism investment funds.
At no point did the writing, dialogue, or cinematography match the intent. This is pretty much exactly the kind of awesome schlock the great Godfrey Ho made, but now they (writer is Jack Lothian?, revolving room of directors) are using impoverished British “talent” in reasonably-priced exotic locales, for overseas streaming sales.
Budget would ruin this. Skill would ruin this. There’s at least two plot holes never resolved (both money related). The pacing was slow to start, then ZOOM. No time for bleeding! Can they make more of these? Same girl or anything else of similar design. One hundred schoolteacher ninja movies, I’m there for it.