That’s why the guiding hand of the “Resident Evil” franchise is regarded among fanboys as one of the most-hated directors working today, although I generally, unapologetically like his brand of motion-picture wares. It’s a style in which visuals are everything, in which music cues are given more forethought than plot points, but at least it’s a style. He’s out for fun, not finesse.
Sometimes, it really works, such as his underrated, underseen ghost-spaceship flick from 1997, “Event Horizon,” and sometimes, it doesn’t, such as his 1994 debut, “Shopping.”
The joking title refers to the nocturnal activities of Britain’s unbridled youth in a near-future, not-quite-apocalyptic setting, in which they jack cars that they then drive at high speed through store windows, and then grab whatever the hell they want. One-time real-life lovers Jude Law (in his first film) and Sadie Frost star as the film’s “heroic” couple, a Bonnie and Clyde for the mid-’90s rave scene.
But there’s not a lot of destruction promised by that premise; most of the tension and conflict is supposed to conveyed by pressures dealing with a rival gang led by Sean Pertwee, not to mention one another. With the exception of its few set pieces, it’s kind of a yawner — always has been, always will be. Its soundtrack album has aged better, yet even it no longer remains in vogue.
Now that Anderson has gone on to bigger and better things, however, “Shopping” makes for more interesting viewing just to see how far he’s come, and how much was there to begin with. Listen to the commentary track he contributes with production partner Jeremy Bolt; while they share many stories on wringing a rather slick-looking picture on a rather slim budget, they also overstate its influence, I think (or at least in America).
Severin’s DVD is worth an upgrade if you’re an admirer of the work, although its extra features are limited in scope. More amusing are trailers for its other titles, like a foreign-language one for “Hardware,” the ’80s Aussie actioner “BMX Bandits” (with a young Nicole Kidman!) and the disaster I can’t wait to see known as “Birdemic.” —Rod Lott