Certificate 15, 84 minutes
Director: Adam Randall
Stars: Josh Bowman, Neil Maskell, William Houston
Level Up (also known as London Underground) is a fairly low budget British thriller set in London. It starts with several different scenes; a man in a suit on the Underground being watched by another passenger, another man with something strapped to his chest running through the streets and a bunch of people filming with their smartphones as someone falls out of a window of a block of apartments.
It then goes to Matt (Josh Bowman) and his friend Joel (Doc Brown) who are watching a video of the last event on a computer in the former’s home. Matt doesn’t really seem to be doing anything with his life; he has a girlfriend, Anna (Leila Mimmack) who looks like she has a good job but he seems to lack one – even though he claims that he and Joel are developing a business, it’s pretty clear they aren’t.
After Anna has gone to work one morning, Matt hears something from the front door which opens, revealing three people in absurdly colourful balaclavas. They knock him to the ground and then pin him there.
The three fasten a vest with a metal box with a combination lock on the front (the man running through the streets earlier had something similar) to Matt and give him a mobile phone. He is going to be given instructions on how and where to deliver a package that is stored inside the box by the phone. If he doesn’t do this, his girlfriend will be killed. If he calls anyone, including the police, she will be killed.
Matt’s first thought is to call the police but, as he is in the process of doing so, the mobile rings and the man on the other end tells him that this is his only warning. Matt was told before they left that the balaclava-people will be watching him.
This all sounds fairly straightforward, but there are other people who want the mysterious package. When Matt goes to the location he is told to go to, he doesn’t find the person he expects. He then keeps getting more and more text messages, each telling him to go to a different part of London, to increasingly bizarre situations. There is genuine danger in this as well.
Matt cannot work out what is going on and, a bit unfortunately, nor can the audience for a very long time. Much of the film is, as a result, a confusing mishmash of action scenes, different locations, violent people and people wearing colourful balaclavas. The impression given that Matt just had to deliver the package, but what he is told to do seems to be completely unrelated to doing this.
The film finally starts to make sense later on, but it leaves it a little late. By this point the audience will probably be just as confused by what is going on as Matt is, as it doesn’t seem to make sense. When Matt does finally realise – at least partly; there are more reveals to come – what is going on, the audience does as well and it bears more than a passing resemblance to a much bigger budget film.
Level Up does seem to have an interesting, if somewhat bizarre and certainly troubling (the thought that this could actually happen is the disturbing part), concept behind it, but it is a bit too confusing for a bit too long.