The Reckoning first came to my attention when somebody likened it to Get Carter and, being a fan of gritty British thrillers, I thought I’d give it a go.
Mick Marler (Nicol Williamson) is a firebrand executive at a struggling company balancing office power struggles with investigating the death of his father at the hands of yobs back home in Liverpool and contending with the obligation to his Irish roots to avenge the wrongdoing. The question is: can Marler be as ruthless in real life as he is in business?
The Reckoning is an odd beast. Nicol Williamson gives a typically storming performance as the permanently cross Marler, and largely carries the film on his charisma alone. The tone is uneven: while the corporate storyline, so beloved of early 70s film and TV, is dull, the Liverpool sequences are poetic in a kitchen sink drama-kind of way, helped no end by the cinematography. The film’s portrayal of women- Marler’s wife, secretary and the bored housewife he picks up during a brawl in a working men’s club- is laughably dated. At one point, Marler and his secretary lie in bed talking about market research- who says romance is dead? Our survey says…
In those regards, the casual sexism and the return to the protagonists’ downbeat northern roots, The Reckoning merits comparison to Get Carter, but that’s where the similarities end. Get Carter is on a set trajectory from the off and moves remorselessly toward its violent conclusion. The Reckoning isn’t and doesn’t. The tone remains uncertain and the plot strands disparate. If The Reckoning had ended with Marler getting caught for meting out justice to the biker who landed the fatal blow on his dad, there would have been some kind of ‘one rule in business, one for real life’ coda to link the two plots. Instead, he goes home, shags his secretary, gets a promotion and his wife back, causes a road accident and all with no apparent consequence, beggaring the question ‘what was the point of that?’
The Reckoning is by turns a dull boardroom drama and an elegiac homecoming one. It remains watchable thanks to Jack Gold’s direction and Nicol Williamson’s angry, magnetic performance as Marler. It’s also the film St Etienne sampled on their 1991 classic Nothing Can Stop Us Now:
“Give ‘em a proper Liverpool welcome- you can do better than that”