It all starts with the timer. When Tommy receives an anonymous text message stating to be ready in five minutes, he places a timer for those five minutes on the dashboard, and waits.
Tommy (Whitelock), an out of work building contractor who finds himself turned onto a life of crime as a getaway driver, sees his whole life unravel through a series of phone calls one night while on a job, forcing him to face the consequences of his lies and make some truly difficult decisions.
How much Blagrove and Williams have managed to achieve in a little over eight minutes here is really incredible. While the “one-man-alone-in-a-car” premise may draw comparisons to 2013 Tom Hardy road-drama Locke, where that film waxed and waned over its feature length, here in short-form, Hold is a constant incline of fine filmmaking and engaging storytelling from beginning to end.
It all starts with the timer. When Tommy receives an anonymous text message stating to be ready in five minutes, he places a timer for those five minutes on the dashboard, and waits. From that point, moving imperceptibly and effortlessly through the gears, Blagrove’s film slowly begins to tighten the vice around our attention as we wait for those five minutes to tick all the way down to the final second. It’s such a simple device, but it absolutely works in instantly setting the audience on edge as we know that in five minutes from now, something’s going down.
But what we don’t know in that moment is that the timer holds so much more significance than a simple countdown. Without giving too much away, that small window signifies the last five minutes of a life Tommy will never have again, and with each phone call we get to see that life crack more and more and until by the end it’s completely shattered. It’s remarkable writing from Williams and means Hold delivers much, much more than an exciting heist movie, it’s a brilliant study of the consequences of one’s choices as well.
Finally, what might be most impressive of all is how all the aspects of Hold manage to keep in near-perfect step with each other. The editing, with simpler, longer cuts initially, becomes increasingly frenetic in the final moments, backed by an increasingly resounding score which grips relentlessly at your heart and ears in the film’s thrilling finale. Whitelock, our sole presence in the film, completely sells every moment, and his transition from calm to sweaty jitters to full on frantic is another example of the films seamless transition from standing start to full throttle, the performance from both Phillips and practically infallible McClure also fine examples of quality over quantity, a mantra this film practically breathes.
With practically nothing but a car, an actor and a phone, Hold manages to deliver a wonderful character-driven drama wrapped in heart pounding heist movie that will keep you right on the edge of your seat.