Starring: Ben Whishaw, Ellie Haddington, Ian Gelder
Director: Aneil Karia
Running Time: 105 mins
Surge is a British film about an airport security worker who, feeling frustrated in a monotonous life, lets loose over the course of a dramatic and dangerous day.
An undoubtedly intense psychodrama with an extremely committed performance from Ben Whishaw, Surge is by no means the easiest watch, but it more than delivers on its premise of the story of a mild-mannered man who suddenly snaps.
Similar in premise to the brilliant Michael Douglas film Falling Down, albeit with far, far less of a sense of dark comedy, Surge is a desperate movie to watch unfold, with an uncompromising perspective of a truly hopeless world.
Let’s start with the part of the film that really impresses throughout: Ben Whishaw’s performance. Much like his turn many years ago in Perfume: The Story of A Murderer, Whishaw has an underlying intensity that, despite a mild-mannered exterior, makes him both magnetic and terrifying to watch.
That style works perfectly in Surge, making his character’s fall into psychotic behaviour not only convincing, but genuinely frightening, and the spark for what turns out to be a very tough, even depressing watch throughout.
In comparison to Falling Down, where you sympathise with Michael Douglas’ character, Ben Whishaw’s character doesn’t have the likability or quick wit to really get on your side. As such, this film works more as the story of a villain than an anti-hero, with a real sense of melancholy as you watch a normal man turn into evil.
The film isn’t there to blame him as an individual, with nods towards ‘society’ making him the way he becomes, although that isn’t exactly fleshed out to the same extent as more accomplished takes on the premise like Joker.
That being said, as an intense thriller that spends almost all of its time with the camera shoved uncomfortably into Whishaw’s face, there’s no denying that Surge manages to deliver a desperately unsettling watch throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2 overall.