5lbs of Pressure (2024) Movie Review – A bleak crime drama where happiness is in short supply

A bleak crime drama where happiness is in short supply

If you’re looking for a cheery and uplifting film to raise your spirits in the days ahead, you might want to avoid 5lbs of Pressure. The film itself is pretty good but filled as it is with miserable characters stricken with tragedy in their lives, it’s not the most hopeful watch if you want to escape your own worries. 

The main protagonist is Adam DeSalvo, played by Luke Evans. At the beginning of the film, we join Adam after he has been released from prison following his 16-year sentence for killing a man. He’s hoping to make a fresh start but this is made difficult by his parole officer who puts obstacles in his way as he tries to move on.

Adam also faces hassle when he visits his ex-wife Donna (Stephanie Leonidas). She wants nothing more to do with him and doesn’t want him to reconnect with Jimmy (Rudy Pankow), his now grown-up son. Still, Adam isn’t about to let his former wife get in the way of some father-son bonding. He meets with him anyway, though doesn’t reveal his identity until later on in the film.

We also follow two other characters. One of these is Eli (Zac Adams), the younger brother of the man that Adam killed years before. Like Adam, he is trying to move on with his life, but he is stirred into vengeful retribution when he discovers his brother’s killer is now walking the streets. 

The third major character is Mike (Rory Culkin), a luckless guy with dreams of making it big in the music business. Unfortunately, his dreams are unlikely to be fulfilled because his days are spent running illegal errands for Leff (Alex Pettyfer), his criminal uncle. When Mike later becomes indebted to a crook named E.R. (Gary McDonald) who has a penchant for slashing his victims’ eyeballs, he is forced to make money quickly before his own eyes meet the sharp end of a blade. 

The film takes us through Adam, Mike, and Eli’s individual life journies before the three of them converge at a bar for a dramatic showdown. A happy ending to their meeting is not guaranteed!

5lbs of Pressure is set in New York but it was actually filmed in Manchester, England. The location change is occasionally noticeable – Manchester looks nothing like New York – but as it sticks to the dark and dingy streets of the city’s urban areas, it’s not too jarring, as the Big Apple has its own share of grimy neighbourhoods.

We spend most of our time in bars, strip clubs, and back alley hidey-holes where various lowlifes hang out. These less than glamourous locales add to the film’s downbeat tone which is almost relentless throughout the near-two hour running time. Some of the characters we meet are pretty much irredeemable, though this doesn’t extend to the central trio who are all trying to find some semblance of happiness within their bleak and broken lives. 

In terms of story, there is nothing in the film that we haven’t seen before. But thanks to the talented playing of Evans, Adams, and Culkin, we are drawn into the lives of their characters and given reason to hope for a happy ending for each of them. But as I alluded to earlier, this isn’t a film where a positive outcome is guaranteed. 

The film’s director, Phil Alloco (The Truth About Lies) doesn’t provide a lot of visual flair but his direction is competent regardless. Admittedly, the film plays like an extended episode of a TV show at times, but that isn’t to detract from the all-too-familiar (but still important) message that Alloco ably elaborates on –  crime doesn’t pay!

5lbs of Pressure isn’t a great crime drama as it’s pretty generic for the most part. But a tense final scene and a few moments of genuine emotion make it more memorable than it perhaps might have been. It’s just about worth a one-time watch, though you might want to close your eyes during the eyeball-slashing scene as it’s probably the grimmest moment in what is already a cheerless and grimy movie. 


Read More: 5lbs of Pressure – Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6/10

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