Royal Paranoia

Out on DVD: Surveillance 24/7


Tom Harper and Sean Brenden Brosnan star in ‘Surveillance 24/7.’ A hot leading man and an intriguing premise make the gay paranoid thriller “Surveillance 24/7” watchable, but just barely. An inconsistent style and a script that contradicts itself make the British film more confusing than suspenseful.

Tom Harper, a hottie in the Colin Farrell mold, stars as Adam Blane, a 30-year-old schoolteacher who works hard and plays hard, prowling the London gay scene by night. One evening he goes home with society photographer Jake Raven (Sean Brenden Brosnan — son of actor Pierce).

For some reason Adam places a call to Amy (Dawn Steele), a TV reporter he dated in college (must have been going through a phase), to ask her for information about Jake. She finds it strange, after not hearing from Adam in seven years.

The next day Adam mistakenly leaves with Jake’s cell phone. Going to return it, he sees Jake’s body being carried away by some kind of ninja.

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Jake’s death works to Amy’s advantage. The network that employs her is owned by “media mogul” Lord Raven, Jake’s father. He puts her on special assignment to get the lowdown on Adam.

Suddenly Adam finds his job sabotaged, himself being followed and people around him being killed. Checking Jake’s phone log he calls someone listed as “The Saint” and arranges a meeting.

We’d better post a Spoiler Alert here, because some revelations are necessary to discuss what the film is about.

“The Saint” is St. John (out actor Simon Callow), who is part of the Royal Family’s household staff. His specialty is procurement (yes, he’s the Royal Pimp) and it was he who hooked Jake up with a gay prince. It worked out so well that the boys decided to go public with their love, and that’s when the Royal Kibosh was ordered.

They had made a coming-out recording, which Jake tried to get his father to broadcast. The fear is that Jake passed it on to Adam, which is why he is in danger, followed by the surveillance cameras that are all over England, as well as official intelligence agents.

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There’s a story in this premise but the screenplay by Kevin Sampson doesn’t bring it out. Amy keeps popping up narrating a documentary but even at the end we don’t know when it’s happening, nor the sequence of some other incidental events.

After being told that snail mail is the one thing the government can’t monitor, Adam asks his father to deliver something for him instead of mailing it. You’ll be left with questions about why certain people lived while others died, and whether Lord Raven was in league with the Royals or acted independently.

Out director Paul Oremland made some brilliant TV films when he was starting out a couple decades ago but hasn’t lived up to his initial promise. “Surveillance 24/7” is his second feature, nearly a decade after the similarly lacking “Like It Is.”

An opening title suggests everything we’ll see has been filmed by surveillance and closed circuit cameras, but Oremland immediately starts inserting arty shots that couldn’t possibly have come from such a source. Had he stuck to his conceit, a variation on the “Blair Witch”/“Cloverfield” gimmick, it might have created the sense of paranoia he was after. As it is there’s just a sense that sometimes “they” are watching, and it’s not the same.

The paranoid fantasies may not work, but if you just focus on Tom Harper, who has an enormous amount of screen time, you’ll get some pleasant fantasies out of “Surveillance 24/7” instead.

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