Written by Old Bluffer 18th Mar 2007
Hillier is the most memorable character in this Nick Love British vigilante film.
He works as a CCTV operator in a hostel, sports a ridiculous "bowl" haircut and obviously revels in the "SECURITY" badge on his uniform.
The reason Hillier is so memorable is that he is a complete and utter nutter, despite his nerdy looks. This is a kid that was obviously picked on throughout his childhood by the other kids, but once he left school became a special kind of sociopath. Kicked out of the Territorial Army for being too aggressive, he now holds court in his own little fantasy land, ruling over the occupants of the hostel. He has hidden cameras in each room to spy on everybody of course, but he craves more power and more excitement.
This opportunity comes when ex-squaddie Bryant checks in. Bryant gives the impression he is a Seriously Hard Man from the very moment he appears in the film. Hard as in North of England hard. This is a man that chews gravel for breakfast - if he even eats breakfast, which he probably doesn't as he's so Hard.
In peacetime though, Bryant doesn't fit in so well. He has battle trauma, his missus is shacked up with another fella, and he is generally disgusted with the weakened liberal government he finds he's returned home too.
Without wasting too much time detailing the plot, Hillier sees Bryant's impressive array of bootleg munitions whilst spying on him through his CCTV, and an uneasy alliance is born. Hillier needs someone to provide fuel for his unhealthy anarchist fantasies, and Bryant wants to continue being militant even though he's no longer in the army.
Within a short space of time, they have recruited a motley crew who have all been wronged by society, including insider help in the form of jaded ageing police officer Walter Lewis (Bob Hoskins). With Walter's implausible help the six of them start carrying out increasingly violent and ambitious vigilante missions.
As soon as these start it is evident that many in the group don't have the stomach for the violence, with the notable exception of Hillier. Faced with bound captives with hoods over their heads, it is Hillier who eagerly smashes their legs with a baseball bat.
In fact, he is far more vicious than Bryant, which causes him to start believing he should be the leader.
This dissent reaches its peak when Bryant arbitrarily decides to free a genuinely nasty piece of work whom they know assassinated Bob Hoskins (and has also overheard information that *definitely* identifies this secret vigilant force, yet this fact is ignored later on).
Furious at being denied the chance to torture a proper criminal, Hillier snaps and starts ranting at Bryant - who it should be noted has not done anything particularly ruthless up until this point.
He's a bit of a dark horse though, is Bryant, and before you can say "Sheffield Blades", he has strung Hillier from a tree by the neck, so that he is almost but not quite choking.
"That'll teach him not to mess with the leader", the audience thinks, waiting for him to be cut free having learned his lesson - but then Bryant unexpectedly shoots him in the kneecaps and walks off.
We don't see Hillier die, but there is no real way he can have survived what must have been a thoroughly pain-wracked death.
To summarize then - the nastiest thing Bryant does in the whole film is to one of his own crew, and he wasn't even unduly provoked!
Incidentally, Sean Bean provides a lot of the humour in this film, some of it presumably intended (like calling Tony Blair a c***) but much of it not. A standout moment for fans of "Sharpe"* is when he rails at his troops in the same manner as if he were in Napoleonic Europe. Somebody needs to make a YouTube video cutting together the Outlaw version (where he is yelling at five misfits in a sports hall), with the Sharpe version, (where he is urging his infantry to "give me three shots a minute, and the French columns *will* fall!")
The film as a whole doesn't work that well though. Nick Love presumably was more concerned about exploring how ordinary people can turn to brutal violence if pushed enough by an unfair society. However, he focused on this at the cost of plot plausibility, so there are lots of scenes that verge on the ridiculous, especially the rushed ending where a gangster boss gets shot in a woefully contrived manner.
That said, I think I enjoyed this film more than most, judging by the reviews I've seen on the web. It was admittedly no think piece, but was still an entertaining yomp through a Britain disillusioned with their country.
* "Sharpe" is the British TV adaptation of the Bernard Cornwall Napoleonic War novels, in which Sean Bean plays a pleasingly tough English rifleman. Highly recommended.