Movie Review: The Slowest Thriller in the History of Blighty — “The Pay Day”

Apologies to anyone at the roll-your-eyes “Here he goes again” stage of reading my familiar gripe, lament and rant about where too many thrillers come up short — pacing.

But here I go again.

“The Pay Day” is a a caper comedy of little action, low acting energy and almost non-existent wit. And every single one of those cringe-worthy shortcoming is connected to the snail’s pace which this indie outing commits to.

It’s disastrously slow — slow to start, slow to get down to business, with slow scenes, slow transitions to new scenes, slow line readings and indifferent editing that does nothing to correct the director’s timidity on the set.

Sam Bradford, mate, if you’ve never heard the phrase “Once again, but FASTER,” you should have. Pace is everything in a caper comedy. EVERYthing. And every single moment of this failure is like watching a fresco dry.

Kyla Frye and Sam Benjamin co-star and co-wrote this story of high stakes/zero-drama data theft. They plays characters who’re both after the same accounts from some firm that’s allegedly keeping the secret illegal stashes of Members of Parliament. She shoots him to prevent him from stealing the flash drive she’s just downloaded.

Could love be far behind?

It’s just that stupid, and never for one agonizing-as-it-plays-out minute lets you forget it.

We’ve seen Jennifer sacked from her office data management job because the boss can’t be asked for a raise. An anonymous phone call proposes a meeting with a cryptic “Anne Boleyn’s ruby slippers” recognition phrase.

Mr. Gates, played by the actor’s actor and Welles biographer Simon Callow, has a new gig for her. Her take?

“One percent of $500 million.” Yes, she can do the math. Can you?

She has to don a wig and fake her way past the lax and annoyingly chatty staff of the London office building where this takes place. And then she’s interrupted by a talky, chummy, over-familiar employee who won’t stop flirting and won’t take a hint that she needs “PRIV-acy,” as the Brits say it, to finish her “clean the server” work.

She’s doing this in a purloined office-maid’s vest, which he notes but doesn’t question. That’s because he wants that data, too. That’s how he gets shot.

Scene after lead-footed scene, with cops coming into the building after the shot is fired, an evacuation, etc., lacks any sense of urgency at all. Then there’s the woman who has never fired a gun barely registering shock at what she’s done, and a guy who acts as if a bleeding (barely) shoulder wound is no big deal continuing their struggles over a flash drive, flirting and passing out for “sex dreams” of the other.

It’s stunningly dumb. The acting is weak, another failing that the hapless editor fails to hide. And every sequence, every scene and every line is so flat and plays out so slowly that the stupid just stands out more.

Rating: unrated, violence

Cast: Kyla Frye, Sam Benjamin and Simon Callow.

Credits: Directed by Sam Bradford, scripted by Sam Benjamin and Kyla Frye. A Vertical release.

Running time: 1:33


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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