Jericho Ridge review – shades of Rio Bravo in tense siege thriller with old-timey charm

Estimated read time 3 min read

There’s an old-timey charm about this, a (mostly) one-location action movie in the tradition of Rio Bravo, or its sort-of remake Assault on Precinct 13. Partly it’s because of the remote mountainous setting in an unnamed state, the log cabin sheriff’s office, the trucks, twangy accents and mentions of second amendment nuts; and partly because of the core device of having a heroic figure – in this case, Deputy Tabby Temple (Nikki Amuka-Bird) – defending the fort against armed invaders. But the joke’s on us because nearly the whole thing was shot in Kosovo and most of the cast is British, as is writer-director Will Gilbey, who is making his feature directorial debut after a long apprenticeship as an editor, writer and second-unit dogsbody on the distinctly estuary-accented Rise of the Footsoldier movies among others. And good luck to the lot of them, because strictly as a genre exercise, this is impressively tense, exciting and adroitly composed. Plus, the whole cast nails the accents.

Like the true pro that she is, Royal Shakespeare Company-trained Nigerian-Brit Amuka-Bird contributes a performance that demonstrates physical prowess, grit, tenderness, vulnerability and pain in a turn that keeps her onscreen throughout. Tabby is first met hobbling about with a broken ankle that of course only gets explained properly later. Because of her injury, and the fact that she’s recently been demoted for reasons subsequently explained, she’s grounded and working the dispatch radio while her colleagues go off to investigate a murder. That also means babysitting a drunk meth-head wife-beater (Michael Socha) in the cells and her own teenage son Monty (Zack Morris from EastEnders) who’s been a naughty boy recently, running with the local drug crowd. When a locksmith (Philipp Christopher) who comes to repair things after a recent break-in turns out to not be a locksmith at all, the film segues into siege mode, with Tabby holding the fort with only a gun that could malfunction at any moment, a shoddy surveillance setup and the radio at her disposal while the state police take their sweet time.

The last act slides somewhat into predictability, but Gilbey pulls out a few nimble moves for the action set pieces, including dampening down the sound so that the shots sound like muffled puffs of noise, and using remote cameras on police cars to reveal action in other locales. Jericho Ridge has nothing especially profound to say, but it’s an impressive calling card, and hopefully proved a shot in the arm for the Kosovan film industry if nothing else.


You May Also Like

More From Author