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Unit Eleven (2020) Review

Unit Eleven looks fifteen years into the future and sees a world in which, for reasons we’re not told, crime in the UK has risen out of control. To the point where it doesn’t just bring down the government in power, it’s brought down all government. The military has deserted, leading to the evacuation of most of the population. Gangs control what’s left.

As if that’s not bad enough, somebody has broken into a laboratory and stolen a bioweapon known as Unit Eleven. The government wants it back bad enough to offer a bounty for it. Wire (Theo Cane Garvey, Clownface), Yayo (Ieuan Parry), Siren (Helen Andrzejowska) and their crew need cash and quick, finding it will solve that problem. They know it’s fallen into the hands of David Maeson (Carl Kendall). What they don’t know is he’s used it on himself, and he’s now an unstoppable killing machine.

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Unit Eleven is a very low-budget, very indie film. So low budget they could easily replace “Ten years in the making” with “Ten dollars in the making”. Writer/director/star Theo Cane Garvey actually did put ten years of his life into self-financing and shooting Unit Eleven. And, for better and for worse, it shows.

Garvey certainly found some great locations in and around Sheffield England to film in. This looks like an abandoned, post-apocalyptic world. And after watching too many end-of-the-world films like The Cove where everything looks neat and tidy that makes a big difference. Similarly, the cast looks the part as well, they’re convincing as the kind of hard lads who would survive in this world.

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Unfortunately, there’s no way around the fact that the script is a mess. Just why England collapsed is never made clear. Or why the military deserted rather than crush the criminal gangs themselves. The opening footage also mentions shipments of military weapons being stolen, but most of the cast are armed with handguns, knives, baseball bats, etc. Who keeps the electricity on and the phone networks running if everyone evacuated? If there’s no government, who offered the bounty and sent Slacks Schaefer (Aaron Slack) to recover Unit Eleven? I could go on, but you get the idea.

The film runs an hour and a half, but IMDB lists it as just under two hours. I’m not sure if that’s a mistake or if the original cut ran that long. Losing half an hour of running time would easily explain a lot of the plot holes.

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In terms of the action scenes, Unit Eleven is a mixed bag. For a film shot on such a low budget, there’s a fair number of them, and the last half hour is almost non-stop fight scenes. Guns, machetes, and even a set of nunchucks and a bullwhip come into play. Some of the scenes have a shaky, handheld look that resembles outtakes from a found footage film. I could have done without that, but enough scenes work to make up for it.

Unit Eleven doesn’t live up to some of the comments I’ve seen, calling it the British Road Warrior. If any film gets that title, though, it would be Neil Marshall’s Doomsday. Given its budget, this is more like a UK Escape from the Bronx or Warriors of the Wasteland. And if you like those films, there’s a good chance you’ll have fun with them too. Like those films, it’s best if you ignore the plot as much as possible. Just concentrate on the film’s scrappy action and low-budget charm.

Unit Eleven is currently available in the UK on DVD and to stream. You can check its Facebook page for details and any announcements of releases elsewhere.

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