Film Review: Bull – 7.5/10

‘You’re family was put on this earth to destroy mine…’

Everyone loves a revenge story. Whether it be Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Liam Neeson slumming it in Taken or Keanu Reeves redefining action cinema with John Wick – audiences can’t get enough of it. While Bull doesn’t have anything new to offer, it is viscerally thrilling…

Over the course of 90 brutal minutes, a mysterious man known only as Bull (Neil Maskell) goes on a brutal rampage against the people who betrayed him ten years earlier. Writer-director Paul Andrew Williams gradually reveals why Bull is so hellbent on revenge and the film eventually descends into terrifying violence and furious vengeance.

There is no getting away from the fact that Bull is derivative of many other gangster flicks. It owes a lot to the work of Guy Ritchie and Shane Meadows, particularly Dead Man’s Shoes, and at its worst moments, this film struggles to break free from the shackles of its influences. That being said, however, there are scenes here that are genuinely unsettling. As with Ben Wheatley’s The Kill List, Bull takes the British gangster movie and turns it into a horror film. Maskell has played many psychopaths before but none as disconcerting as this guy.

While Bull whips past at 90 minutes, this is a properly bleak film and should only be attempted by those with a strong constitution. I found certain sections difficult to sit through but this is much more than just a mindless crime thriller. There is something of real substance here – it’s just that it is coated in an insidious layer of violence and brutality.