Nightride Movie Review | RBC

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Nightride is a strong crime thriller anchored by a strong central performance that uses its one-take gimmick to ramp up the tension.

A new attempt at a one-take film, Night walk uses the format to explore a single night in the criminal underworld of Ireland. In the process, Night walk serves as a solid morality piece and well-executed film that excels most when unfolding as a tense crime thriller.

Night walk takes place over a single night in Belfast, in a single near-continuous shot, focusing on petty criminal Budge (Moe Dunford). Hoping to escape the criminal underworld for an auto shop alongside a “civilian” friend, Budge arranged for an extra night’s work as a middleman for a massive drug smuggling scheme to pay his way out of the world. When he spots someone who appears to be following him, he instead tries to steer them away from the case in his car while he orders his associates to finish the job over the phone. Inevitably, everything becomes more chaotic. Budge must juggle his own morality and mortality while trying to figure out how to save himself and his girlfriend Sofia (Joana Ribeiro) from the grip of vicious crime lord Joe (Stephen Rea) and his agent Troy ( Gérard Jordan).


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Night walk effectively works as something resembling Guy Ritchtie’s take on Tom Hardy Locke, where the single shot of someone driving through a city at night ends up fueling massive tension. Ben Conway’s storyline moves at a fast pace without ever losing sight of Budge’s arc and desperation. The narrative strikes a happy balance between minor moments of humanity amid the suppressed violence and chaos of the plot. While most of the characters are kept relatively vague due to the film’s singular focus, Budge – and to a lesser extent Sofia and Troy – feel well fleshed out for the film’s meandering narrative.


Dunford in particular deserves praise for his performance as Budge. The film’s handful of genuinely quiet moments work largely through her performance, leaving the scenes intense and raw. Budge is a self-proclaimed badass, a man who has never been caught by the cops and always seems to get out of trouble. Through the endless focus of Stephen Fingleton’s direction, Dunford weeds out those elements, revealing a man who realizes in that moment just how out of his depth he truly is. In those moments — the silence waiting for someone to pick up a phone, the serenity of just having a cigarette in the open air — Night walk shines.


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Fingleton’s direction is deliberately austere, largely focusing on Budge’s face and little else other than the handful of times the film stops and he gets out of the car. It’s here that Fingleton’s direction really sings, as he proves adept at knowing when to keep the camera back to give confrontations additional layers of intensity or to zoom in and focus on Budge’s moral conflict erupting on his face. The film isn’t necessarily perfect, with some of the rougher edges in terms of production lending to the overall nature of the story. The rest of the cast give good voice-only performances, but their characters ultimately feel one-dimensional. This is partly because there are few ways for the film to focus on them without losing the film’s inherent creative drive).


The third act also loses some of the tight pace and tension of the first half, when a bit more suspense could have benefited plot developments. As Locke before that, the film can sometimes seem static, even if the stoppage is deliberate. It’s worth praising Night walk for turning a simple concept into such a tense thriller. When the movie works, it works. Moments of Budge trying to scramble to call anyone who can fix his rapidly worsening situation really land. Night walk is a successful attempt to merge a unique directing approach with a strong storyline, all anchored by a strong central performance from Dunford. For thriller fans in particular, Night walk is a solid output.


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