There is always discussion about Paul W.S. Anderson’s skills as a director outside his Resident Evil series. For the record and just to prove that I’m not totally biased against the man, if I ever get around to posting reviews of Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon or Soldier, those will be positive. Anything after those is decidedly negative, so Anderson hasn’t made (or fluked) a watchable film since the 1990s. Of course though the other movie of his from that decade is his debut, with Shopping. It has been a long time since I’ve seen (part) of this film, this week it had a re-visit, since this version that I have watched will soon be available to the public (Region B) on July 27th.
Anderson’s movie follows youngsters Jude Law and Sadie Frost, bent on getting their kicks by stealing high powered cars then ramming them through affluent shop windows (‘ram-raiding’ a subject of much controversy in the 1990’s – solved by simple bollards) then taking whatever they want. With its vaunted ’18’ rating (that’s hard-R to those in the States), it might sound like manly movie material. I was surprised though returning to this movie how much of a kid’s movie it is, the main theme is corrupted youth and social angst. Since Anderson wrote this as well as directed it, don’t be surprised to find that this isn’t handled particularly well either. It’s overwrought and aimless.
In that sense, it was very much aimed at the upcoming Playstation generation of the day. And one other note about the movie itself is that it’s probably the softest 18/Hard-R film I’ve ever seen, so it’s interesting to point out that that was a marketing tool in the day, to draw in more younger viewers. Nowadays things are different of course. We see a reversal with movies aimed at older people getting classifications for younger demographics.
Shopping is an average film. It’s not good. It’s not particularly bad. But it meanders and betrays its original marketing line of being packed with mayhem. There is little vehicular action and the stuff we do see is filmed in a heedful and muted way — as if the local council were keeping an eye on things. That Porsche 911 for example – criminally underused. It’s driven like it was rented for the day, it probably was. It’s interesting to see Empire Magazine hype the film as ‘going right for the action jugular’ on the new artwork, the end result is the compete opposite. It’s good though to see Sean Bean and Sean Pertwee appear in this movie, but I would have liked to have seen more from them.
This was a low budget film, so wonders should not be expected from the transfer, which is not impressive in and of itself, but holds its own considering. It has relatively strong colours and occasionally impressive depth, given how dark and murky this film is. There is an edited press kit release included with the movie, as well as interviews from the cast (Sadie Frost and Jude Law). A theatrical trailer is included, but Paul W.S. Anderson’s commentary is missing, even though he has recorded one for this movie. His commentary never impressed me anyway.