Trust a British neo-noir film to get horribly dark. The Marker takes viewers on a pitch black path into the realm of the criminal underbelly lurking right beneath the tranquil surface of British towns.
The Marker starts us off as we bear witness to underworld criminal Marley (Frederick Schmidt) as he accidentally kills a mother Ana (Ana Ularu) right in front her her 9-year old daughter. It’s a gruesome scene, and immediately establishes the film as unafraid of busting out the blood and violence as necessary. Fast forward a prison sentence and a few years later, and Marley’s still haunted by the look the girl last gave him, and vows to take care of her after his release. Of course, none of this is easy, and as he searches for her, a deep dark web of corruption and human trafficking begins to rear its ugly head from beneath the city’s idyllic surface, and Marley must use all the skills and underworld knowledge at his disposal to not only protect the girl (now played by Lara Peake), but also protect himself.
The Marker has plenty of your typical neo-noir themes being flung around, such as the immense amount of guilt Marley feels the need to atone for, and Ana’s constant appearance as a spectral figure, reminding him of his crime at every turn. A bit of an awkward protagonist, Marley often borders on creepy and obsessive in his stalking of Ana’s daughter Christina. There’s a nice onscreen tension that erupts whenever the two interact with each other, one reeling from the pain of facing her mother’s murderer, the other attempting to connect with a young woman he’s hurt immeasurably. John Hannah also brings some palpable discomfort to each scene he appears in; on one hand a useful informant for Marley, and on the other, a pretty violent criminal in his own right, as the film reveals later.
The real gem that The Marker has to offer is the incredibly terrifying world it creates, which director Justin Edgar does remarkably well. Inhabiting an unimaginably intricate and complex criminal underworld that lurks just around the edges of the otherwise ordinary everyday, The Marker throws our own view of our routine lives into question and keeps us wondering just how much evil there is around us. Not even caretakers can be trusted in the world of The Marker, and constant suspicion is abound. It’s little wonder then that an air of unease is wrapped around the film in every scene, and why characters have little reason to feel any form of hope at all.
As with most neo-noir film, The Marker can be a little hard to follow at times with its twisted narrative, changing with each new reveal until the film’s denouement. But ultimately, this is a mood film, and audience members should allow themselves to get lost in this film’s eerie atmosphere, and as guns are fired and knives are drawn, let it swallow them up whole into its deep dark underbelly.
The Marker is released in UK Cinemas on 29th September