Cal (Wayne Virgo) returns home to visiting his dying mother and to rebuild his life. Now openly gay, and despised by his family, Cal finds that the city he once knew is now full of riots and unemployed youth wreaking havoc. A chance meeting with Jason (Tom Payne) draws him into a dark underworld controlled by Russian gangster Ivan (Daniel Brocklebank) who sells young boys for sex. As Cal begins to fall for Jason, he gets dragged into a very dangerous situation and is pulled between his family and his new love interest.
Cal is the sequel to 2009 movie Shank and sees Wayne Virgo reprise his role as the titular character for another dose of crime, coming-of-age and sex. Whereas the first film felt timely and made some strong observations about the state of today’s youth, Cal misses the mark and fails to pack the same punch that its predecessor did. Writer and director Christian Martin, who co-wrote and directed Shank, tries to set Cal against the back-drop of the London riots but there fails to be a cohesive link between those and the life that Cal finds himself stuck in.
There’s a definite feeling of trying to shock with Cal which is something that Shank never did. Shank managed to shock due to its plot and content rather than creating situations to make the viewer uncomfortable. One such scene is when Cal’s aunt attempts to rape him after arriving home drunk. It just doesn’t feel true to the story at all and is a very two-dimensional portrayal of a family lacking in money or social class.
Daniel Brocklebank is criminally underused as evil Ivan despite being one of the best things about the movie. We don’t really get to understand why Ivan does the things he does or get any background on the character. He simply shows up at convenient plot points to orchestrate some incredibly uncomfortable viewing.
Wayne Virgo, still reasonably new to acting (this is his third role), can’t get under the skin of Cal in the way that he needs to. His naivety worked in Shank but this time round Cal is a boy who has been through so much and is still battling his inner-demons. These are never really brought to life with Virgo giving a surface-deep performance failing to connect with the material or the audience. Tom Payne is marginally better but his performance also leaves you wanting more.
Cal is a misjudged and unnecessary sequel. The first movie was a truly intriguing piece of film but this is just a bit of a mess. Poor performances, a storyline that tries to do everything but ultimately achieves nothing, and a silly ending left us really disappointed. We hoped that Cal could live up to the highs of Shank but it sadly seems that isn’t the case.