out of Five
Running time: 117
Flashy, fast-paced and unashamedly trashy, this is a supremely shallow but no less enjoyable thriller, enlivened by strong performances, snappy editing and a willingness not to take itself too seriously.
What's it all about?
Written and co-directed by Noel Clarke, 126.96.36.199 stars Emma Roberts as London-based American teen Jo, who divides her time between working in a 24-hour supermarket and hanging out with her three unlikely best friends, posh stunner Cassandra (Tamsin Egerton), depressive emo kid Shannon (Ophelia Lovibond) and mouthy, half-Brazilian lesbian Kerrys (Shanika Warren-Markland).
Spread over three days (the tagline explains that the title stands for “4 girls, 3 days, 2 cities, 1 chance”), the film begins with the four girls meeting up and then continually rewinds to that point to tell each of their stories: Shannon is struggling with a family break-up and a personal trauma; Cassandra is flying to New York to lose her virginity to her internet boyfriend; Kerrys's plans to use Cass's place to seduce her new girlfriend go horribly wrong when her knucklehead half-brother follows them there; and Jo clashes with her boss (Noel Clarke) when the supermarket is attacked by armed robbers.
Meanwhile, one of the girls accidentally winds up with some stolen diamonds that puts a group of ruthless thieves on their trail.
The performances are excellent, with Shanika Warren-Markland probably the stand-out as she grabs the lion's share of the best lines and her character has the most fun. There's also strong support from Michelle Ryan (as a mysterious stranger who takes an interest in Shannon), Linzey Cocker (as Jo's sharp-witted half-sister) and Clarke regular Adam Deacon (as one of the thieves) as well as entertaining cameos from the likes of Kevin Smith (as a motor-mouthed plane passenger), Mandy Patinkin and Eve. Clarke keeps things moving nicely, with flashy direction and snappy editing, though his decision to big himself up in the dialogue was probably a step too far.
The film's biggest problem is the script - the girls don't really convince as a group of friends and none of the characters have any real depth, while several of the scenes (particularly Cass's New York adventure) feel clunky and contrived.
That said, 188.8.131.52 is a fast-paced, entertainingly trashy thriller that proves we can make leave-your-brain-behind popcorn flicks just as well (or as badly) as Hollywood can.