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Director: Femi Oyeniran

Cast: Dylan Duffas, Sorcher, Shone Romulus, Ashley Chin, Nicky Walker

Rating: 15

Running Time: 104 Minutes

THE Intent has got style. It’s apparent from the first dreamy slow motion scenes that glide from lead Lee Biggins, better known as Gunz (Dylan Duffas), as a young boy playing with his father’s gun, to him and his south London crew flashing money in a club opposite their rivals. The seamless transition warms us to this gorgeous boy full of intrigue, his whole life ahead of him and yet already laid out. It makes his future seem inevitable, as if he woke up one day a grown man and part of a gang.

Such is the way for many black men in particular boroughs of London where inequality is high, born into environments that pre-determine their life choices or lack thereof. THE INTENT wrong foots itself in the tangle of narrative from time to time, but its heart is definitely in the right place. It knows what it’s about, and each scene is executed with grace.

Gunz is running with two crews. He is an undercover policeman and right hand man of Hoodz (played by rapper Sorcher), aiding armed robberies and cocaine runs that tangle the TIC gang in all manner of hood squabbles. Murder is rife, police heat heavy. But this is not just a clichéd, glamorous expression of London gangster life (as much as the critics would like it to be). Relationships between these men, their children and other family members, reveals many other threads of motivations that complicate their lives. The most endearing character to watch comes in the form of Mich (Femi Oyeniran, also directing), whose guilt and urge to be a good father leads him of of a life and crime and to the church where he prays for his friends to do the same.

THE INTENT certainly captures an authentic sense of street life in London, but where it could have stayed truer to its core themes, its overall message gets simplified with a Good and Evil dynamic set up between the police and the gangs. Although Gunz is the mediator between the two and is full of love and empathy, the last act could have done with deeper musings by him on the why and the how. The film certainly shows the grimness behind the glamour of gangsterism, but hardly brushes the shortcomings of legal institutions in London further than initial implication.

It’s impossible not to be drawn into the drama of what feels like a fiercely authentic story, full of friendship and tragedy to the point where you can be forgiving of its blunders. The ‘intent’ is certainly present – I was just hoping for more.


THE INTENT will be released in the UK on Friday 29th July

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