A thief breaks into a home in West London amidst a recent string of burglaries targeting mostly affluent, wealthy homes, leaving a distinct signature marking his handiwork.
But one home’s current occupant forces the invader to confront the limits of his criminality in an exchange of wits and blows that upends the dynamic between thief and victim.
Writer-director Henry Scriven’s criminal drama is essentially a chamber drama, an extended exchange between two characters in what’s revealed to be a game of comeuppance. Told with arch wit, a sharp ear for dialogue and terrific performances, it’s man versus man battling for turf, but told with verve and finesse.
The story is anchored by a charismatic performance by lead actor Himesh Patel, who starred in the film “Yesterday.” This particular narrative uses his undeniable screen charisma, intelligence and charm to disarming ends.
In this battle of wit and strategy, each character’s thinking process has to be conveyed with precision and subtlety with each beat — a mental game of chess of sorts, complete with feints and smokescreens — and Patel’s performance delivers in spades. Actor Gideon Turner (who appeared on “Eastenders” with Patel) plays off him with his own sense of confidence, and watching the two men bring the excellent writing to life is a fascinating exercise in cleverness.
“The Fox” moves with quicksilver rhythm, balancing moments of arch humor, moments of suspense and taut drama. Well-crafted and clever, it plays with expectations in a delightful way — and is all about the pleasure of a well-played gambit that is as adroitly-executed and smart as the titular “fox” himself.