out of Five
Running time: 90
Weekender has a terrific soundtrack and some superb performances from a strong cast of up-and-coming actors, but the script is all over the place and the lacklustre direction ensures that it never quite delivers the rush you're hoping for.
What's it all about?
Directed by Karl Golden and written by Chris Coghill, Weekender is set in early 90s Manchester and stars Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Donovan from The Inbetweeners) and Jack O'Connell (Cook from Skins) as Dylan and Matt, two best friends who find success as illegal rave party promoters when they sign up local pirate DJ Captain Acid (Tom Meeten). However, their acid-house antics attract the attention of shady gangster type John the Rat (Ben Batt) and the boys find their relationship tested as they're drawn deeper and deeper into the murky underworld of the drug scene.
The performances are excellent: rising stars O'Connell and Lloyd-Hughes make a likeable onscreen duo and their sparky friendship is genuinely engaging, while Ben Batt is terrific as John the Rat (he has a nice line in quietly menacing delivery) and there's strong support from Tom Meeten (great but under-used as Captain Acid) and from Stephen Wight as London promoter Gary Mac, who initially attempts to take the boys under his wing. Needless to say, the soundtrack is good too, if you like that sort of thing.
The main problem is the script, which is, frankly, all over the place. For example, one minute Gary Mac invites the boys to his villa in Ibiza and offers them their dream job as Europe-wide rave promoters, which they happily accept, but the next minute, for no adequately explained reason, they're back in Manchester doing their own thing again and getting deeper and deeper into trouble with John the Rat.
In addition, Golden's direction saves all its energy for the rave sequences and fails to inject any into the rest of the proceedings. The result is that the timing often feels off (there are various lines and comedy moments that fall painfully flat) while the film never finds a consistent tone. It also completely wastes talented actors such as Zawe Ashton (who barely even has any lines as the boys' friend Sarah) and Dean Andrews, whose appearance as a crusading police detective seems to promise another subplot that mysteriously fails to materialise.
The likeable performances ensure that Weekender remains watchable throughout but it's never as much fun as it ought to be thanks to a weak script and lacklustre direction.