By Adam Ray Palmer
What a monumentally violent way to end my London Film Festival expedition in 2021. Bull, Paul Andrew Williams' first feature film in nine years, is the chosen climax.
Written and directed by Bafta®-winner Williams; Bull stars Neil Maskell (Kill List, Humans), Tamzin Outhwaite (Eastenders) and David Hayman (Taboo).
After a 10-year absence, former gang enforcer Bull (Neil Maskell) returns to his old town to try and find his missing son and seek revenge on those who double crossed him and left him for dead.
As this revenge thriller plays out, painful secrets from the past are soon revealed as flashbacks work in tandem with the present-day drama. And like a man possessed, Bull stops at nothing to get back at those who must atone for their sins.
Bull, the movie, is an unflinching and brutal psychological thriller. It’s littered with filmmaking techniques straight out of the horror genre, ensuring the audience is unnerved all the way through. From the off, Bull is full of suspense and fully submerses you into the murky and gritty world of organised crime.
As gruesome and bloody as Bull is, the movie also has a strong heart. You’re constantly reminded of why Bull, the man, is a tortured psychopath who is hellbent in getting what he wants. There’s a deeper backbone here with a love story between a father and his son. The tender scenes scattered throughout reaffirm why you are slightly routing for all the death. Bull is the definition of a juxtaposition movie.
Paul Andrew Williams is back on intense form here, with Bull echoing a lot of the old haunts he brought to us with his 2006 movie, London to Brighton. Bull is packed with small moments, one-off killer scenes like short films; all plagued with unease and magnetic violence.
It’s not always rosy though, the film as a whole can at times feel a little clunky and ends don’t always meet; but bumps are smoothed over by a commanding Maskell who gives the grittiest and, perhaps unusually, honest performance I can remember. He’s a psychopath with a true intention – an exciting contrast to watch.
Cineroom’s rating: 4 stars
Bull premiered at the London Film Festival on 17th October – certificate 15.
Signature Entertainment presents Bull exclusively at UK Cinemas from 5th November