Friday, November 11, 2022

The Pay Day, with Simon Callow

The best caper-heist movies are meticulously detailed. It’s that little stuff, like the umbrella catching the debris in Rififi that makes them fun. This film isn’t like that at all. In large measure, both the cast and characters seem to be making it up as they go along. However, if you adjust your expectations and settle in for some double- and triple-crossing trickery, there might be something to Sam Bradford’s The Pay Day, which releases today in theaters and on VOD.

Jennifer just got sacked from her London IT job, because her [former] boss is an exploitative shark. She already has an offer of sorts, but it is somewhat non-traditional. The mysterious mastermind calling himself Gates wants her to sneak into a big “City” bank’s corporate office to steal a list of dodgy accounts and their passwords. The source of the dirty funds is a bit vague and it seems to keep shifting from conversation to conversation, but she could certainly use her multi-million-Pound cut.

However, Jennifer has a harder time infiltrating the building than anticipated because of Gates’ junky intel. She also has to con her way around George, whom she assumes is an investment banker, but viewers can tell from his entrance, he is actually another thief trying to make the same big score. Yet, despite the circumstances, they have a weird flirty thing going on, even after she accidently shoots him.

As co-screenwriters, Kyla Frye and Sam Benjamin are more successful fooling the lead characters they play than the audience watching it pan out. However, it is rather lively. They made three previous short films together, so there is at least a pre-existing professional relationship there. Regardless, their chemistry in
Pay Day works surprisingly well.

Of course, the real ace in the hole is Simon Callow, who devilishly chews the scenery as the shadowy Gates. He just shamelessly chortles his way through the film, which in his case, really is fun to watch. The film also gets a lot of personality from Daisey Coole and Tom Nettleship’s briskly up-tempo, somewhat smooth-ish jazz score, a bit in the tradition of Earl Klugh & Hubert Laws soundtrack for
How to Beat the High Cost of Living (which is a film that really ought to be having a moment again).

It is fortunate that the music is distinctive because Bradford’s direction and the look of Phil Thomas’s cinematography are both pretty pedestrian. All the style comes from the music or the cast. Still, there is enough cleverness in Frye and Benjamin’s writing and lead performances to pass the time. Earning a mild recommended for when it hits free streaming platforms,
The Pay Day releases today (11/11) on VOD and screens Monday (11/14) at the Cranford Theater in Jersey.