188.8.131.52.. The title of this multi-threaded thriller gives the impression that a timer is counting down the seconds — maybe it is bomb methodically ticking down to Armageddon, maybe it is a rocket set to take flight to the moon. Or maybe, as in this case, it spells out the specifics of the film. There are four girls (note to any filthy minded readers — it’s not an all out lesbian porno, although you won’t be disappointed), that have three days to travel to two cities to get one chance to save their asses. I rather like this explanation more than the others; too bad I can’t say I liked the movie all that much.
As interesting as the story sounds, it doesn’t unfold nearly as well as it could have. Taking its cues from movies like Pulp Fiction, 184.108.40.206. weaves its story from multiple threads — each of which represent the individual girls’ adventures — and combines them thanks to a diamond heist, some pissed off burglars and ridiculous coincidences. The girls themselves are all diverse clichés — there’s a depressed and misunderstood one, a tough one with a wrecked home life, a cutesy one that loves miniskirts, and, yes, a sassy lesbian, who rages against world injustices.
Undoubtedly, Noel Clarke again had grand images of a gritty urban British street crime flick in his mind as he wrote and co-directed this (akin to his Kidulthood and Adulthood). The pacing, however, is off from the immediate start and it takes far too long for the viewer to understand what the hell is going on. One path starts, 20 minutes later, after a bunch of nonsensical happenings, it ends and we flashback to start a new unrelated story. Repeat again and again. And many times it just seems like random scenes with no substantive value were appended throughout with no regard to the arc of the story. But once the bearings are straightened out, and assuming one stays focused, the plot is in fact relatively smart and engaging (although wholly unrealistic).
Saving 220.127.116.11. from itself is the acting talent. The four leads put up better than average performances. The adorable Tamsin Egerton offers up hope and promise (she has a chance to learn piano at a NY private school) as Cassandra, but succumbs to the dangers of online predators and stalkers. Shanika Warren-Markland as Kerrys has to deal with ogling and harassing guys and an asshole brother. She and her girlfriend spend an inordinate amount of time nearly naked (no wonder they’re ogled). Ophelia Lovibond as Shannon gets to show her chops juggling a broken family life and boy woes. And Emma Roberts, who seems a bit young when compared to her accomplices, offers up a nice counterbalance to her friend’s personalities and dramas as the uppity and foul-mouthed Joanne. Noel Clarke even manages to write himself some good scenes.
The potential was there though. Clarke has demonstrated he has a keen sense for capturing the street vibe of British youth and at times it manages to shine through the fog. His subjects in 18.104.22.168., like in his previous films, experience abandonment, sexuality, dependence and identity issues. All very real concerns that, in one way or another, we’ve all dealt with. It’s too bad they’re so convoluted that too much effort must be invested to see them play out.