Much like his 2009 social-realist psychodrama Tony — starring a chilling Peter Ferdinando as a council-estate loner on a Dahmer-esque murder bender — writer-director Gerard Johnson’s equally ruthless and arrestingly gritty crime thriller Hyena lurks among the
human scum of London’s grayest cracks.
Unrecognizably paunchy and sturdier in this second collaboration, Ferdinando convincingly earns the feral title as Michael, a duplicitous detective sergeant who lives like Bad Lieutenant in a Pusher underworld of swarthy, multi-ethnic villains (and those are just his colleagues). On the take with every coke-addled, xenophobic droog in his vice squad, yet secretly buying or tipping off Turkish traffickers and limb-chopping Albanian brothers, Michael’s allegiances change frequently to meet his neediness and greediness.
Propelled by The The’s pulsing electronica and nervous camera-bobs through tightly framed nightclubs and drug dens — sometimes in grandstanding slo-mo — Michael’s desperation and urgency escalate, especially once his war takes on more fronts with Internal Affairs and a former partner he left out to dry (Boardwalk Empire‘s Stephen Graham).
The film’s convoluted moral trajectory to hell may be as unoriginal as quoting Taxi Driver, and the pervasive violent menace can be needlessly punishing (including a drugged sexual assault), but as stylish, scorched-earth entertainment, it’ll get you in its teeth.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2015