Psychopaths in Film – Aidan Gillen in Blitz
Here we go off the beaten track a little to a lesser known British crime thriller Blitz starring Jason Statham and Aiden Gillen as cop and criminal, with Statham seeking to find the culprit in a series of brutal murders of police officers in London. Paddy Considine also stars as a newly arriving chief constable helping Statham hunt down the killer.
Whilst on one level Blitz is a no nonsense Jason Statham action thriller, with the Stath delivering an entertaining tough man performance as usual, the performance by Aidan Gillen as a psychopathic killer on the run is arguably even better. He adds his own twist to the performance that makes his character scary in his unpredictability and there are subtle aspects in his performance that perfectly portray the disordered inner world of a psychopath.
As well as being a suprisingly good study in violent psychopathy, the whole film also has a realistic down to earth feel, with believable characters and dialogue and good performances all round, not just from the two leads. Click here to check the current price of Blitz on Amazon.
Aidan Gillen as The Blitz
Aiden Gillen manages to cultivate a genuinely frightening psychopathic character in the form of Barry Weisz. He actually demands to be referred to as “The Blitz”, hence the name of the film. This is all part of his attention seeking as he fantasises about being the mysterious Blitz character reported in all the papers that everyone is talking about but who no one can catch.
However for me it is the subtle little things that Gillen adds to the performance that make his character so dark and compelling. Even the way he walks around with his shirt open is like a fake statement of uniqueness. It’s like the character is trying to broadcast to everyone “Look at me, I’m cool, I’ve walking around with my shirt undone”. In the world of the film one could imagine hardly anyone notices and even the ones that do just think “What an idiot”.
This along with his obsession with the Blitz name perfectly portray a kind if inner emptiness and fakeness that characterize psychopaths. Some are capable of producing a superficial charm and charisma to take in others but all of them are masking an emptiness they have inside themselves. The pathetic obsessions and fashion statements of Gillen’s character perfectly captured this fakeness and need for attention for this writer.
He also strikes up a phone dialogue with a slimy newspaper reporter, brilliantly played by David Morrissey, offering him news snippets in return for publicity. Again this is part of Gillen’s character’s pathetic attention and fame seeking as he feeds the Journo with headlines he’d like to see about himself.
Explosions of Psychopathic Violence
Gillen’s character does play up somewhat to the stereotypical psychopath in a film in that he does have explosions of brutal violence where he dispatches cops and other bystanders with no remorse.
One scene where he brutally murders a grieving police officer on leave is particularly frightening and again brilliantly portrays the lack of conscience in a psychopath. After violently dispatching his victim he sits on the sofa in his house, only a few feet away from the murdered cop, and watches game shows before torching the whole apartment.
Psychopaths have a complete detachment from others emotionally and this is what allows them to treat others just as objects to be used or dispatched with no connection to them at all, to the point they can sit feet away from them after killing them and act as if nothing has happened.
This is characteristic of the most extreme violent psychopaths. British serial killer Dennis Nilsen even kept the bodies of his victims in his lounge and conversed with their dead corpses. Psychopaths are capable of very bizarre behaviour and Gillen captures this unhinged quality many of them have superbly in his performance.
A Frightening But Pathetic Character
Gillen does manage to play a character that is both frightening and pathetic at the same time. The unpredictability of his character and the explosions of violence mean you are on edge waiting for what he’s going to do next, yet you also see a pathetic and small individual desperate for attention.
He is constantly conversing with David Morrissey’s journalist character, trying to dictate the headlines and narrative he would like to see about himself. When he is initially arrested but released without charge, his solicitor suggests they exit the station from a concealed entrance to hide from all the camped out press. “Fuck no!” Weisz responds, jumping at the chance to feed his need for attention.
Later on in the film we find out the reason for his killing spree directed against cops, and it relates to a dressing down Statham’s character had given him months earlier. Everyone else, including Statham himself, had forgotten about the incident, but Weisz holds onto it and uses it to justify exacting revenge on all cops.
We see a taster of the pathetic mindset behind this when Statham and Considine’s characters visit him in his flat to ask some questions. The dressing down is alluded to, but Weisz feigns ignorance. Once the officers have left the flat, Weisz is seen saying “You just wait and see. Yeah?”. The words are utterly pointless as he’s saying them to no one except himself.
We see Weisz betraying almost a childish inability to let go and Statham later tells him straight “The thing is Barry, you’re nothing. No one cares. No one gives a fuck”. This of course further stokes his fragile ego and makes him seek out revenge again on the Stath’s character.
This time they are one step ahead of Weisz though and use his petty mindset against him to goad him into a situation where in seeking his revenge he traps himself and allows the Stath and Considine’s police constable to exact a revenge of their own for all their colleagues he murdered.
An Excellent, Unique Performance
Aidan Gillen’s performance in Blitz is a superbly creative and unique protrayal of a dangerous unhinged psychopath on the loose. The explosions of violence are frightening and sometimes unexpected and the unpredictable nature of the performance always leaves you wondering what he will do or say next.
Aidan Gillen has an excellent acting CV behind him with some brilliant performances in very different roles, so in many ways this is no surprise. He has a unique kind of stage charisma that he puts to interesting effect here portraying a completely off the wall, dark and dangerous character that frightens but fascinates as well.
There is an unhinged weirdness to his dialogue and actions that immediately lets you know there is something not right here. The underlying emptiness and fakeness that characterizes psychopathy is also brilliantly brought across in the performance.
Statham is the perfect foil as the alpha male no nonsense politically incorrect cop who isn’t at all frightened of him and just needs to catch him in the act. The backup performances and minor roles are also excellent with entertaining, humorous and believable characters you could imagine meeting in everyday life in London. Blitz is recommended viewing as a no nonsense, entertaining British crime thriller with some dark psychology thrown in there with Gillan’s excellent performance.
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