Gort vs Tim Roth: We review new UK crime thriller The Liability

Commander's log, Stardate 16052013.2:

We loaded our super-intelligent ape friend into a shuttle, offering him 20 bananas if he'd fly us to an uninhabited planet nearby. When we arrived, we suggested he bury some "private items" for us - namely some pirated DVDs we no longer needed. The plan was, once he was involved in the task, we'd kosh him on the head and fly off home, leaving us back at a crew of two.

It seemed like a foolproof plan. As such, I'm still not sure why I'm now recording this from the surface of said planet while I watch the ape fly off in our shuttle... with me wearing nothing but my underwear...

"He is super-intelligent..."

Shut up, Gort.

The Liability is essentially a British retread of Collateral. An amoral hitman pressgangs an everyman into driving him between hits and the two form a strained bond. Of course, Kent is never going to quite match NYC for grittiness or stylishness, so The Liability takes the same route previous UK attempts to compete on Hollywood's home turf like Severance and Hot Fuzz did. If there are just two things England does perfectly, it's knowing humour and great performances.

Our everyman here is a layabout chav, spending his days playing Call of Duty and scoffing Twix in one gulp. His dodgy step-dad decides it's time for him to learn a trade and sends him out to drive the mighty Tim Roth's ageing assassin to his next job. Once the duo fall foul of St Trinian's Talulah Riley, however, our anti-hero discovers that the target may not be who he thought it was.

We'd watch Roth (or Riley in a see-through shirt and no bra) in anything.

While The Liability has some similarities to new-lad cinema such as Paul Tanter, Noel Clarke or Danny Dyer's movies, it's a much more old-fashioned beast at heart. Make no mistake, the film moves slowly, unravelling inch by inch during long, uneventful scenes of motorway travel. When it speeds up, the film actually manages to exude its own quirky style and it works very well - such as a particularly appealing and amusing bag drop in a diner car park, one of the few scenes with background music - however, the movie is more interested in subtly hinting at the motivations and backgrounds of its characters. When this kind of thing is done well, it can be a sign of genius, but here you're left feeling like you've missed some dialogue somewhere that would have clued you in on what the hell is going on. Some of the twists are profoundly unlikely and characters regularly do things purely to advance the plot.

All that said, the film is dynamic, keeping its own pace on its own terms, and its wonderfully dark edge is balanced by a pleasant line in witty humour that manages to make you laugh out loud without resorting to cheap slapstick and gurning at the camera. Likewise, the characters manage to be complete scumbags without making them difficult to spend 90 minutes with... bringing us nicely to the film's other attribute - its length. If you're a regular Gort fan, you'll know that we applaud any movie that clocks in at under an hour and a half, and The Liability manages to wrap up all its threads into a neat little package long before it's outstayed its welcome. Not perfect, but memorably promising and we'd watch Roth (or Riley in a see-through shirt and no bra) in anything.

The Liability is out in UK cinemas tomorrow and hits DVD on the 27th.