Ashens and the Polybius Heist is a British comedy heist film made on a comparatively low budget, which unfortunately shows in the acting and set design. Stuart Ashen, commonly known as Ashens, a collector of tat, aims to pull off a huge heist reclaiming the infamous Polybius arcade cabinet which allegedly can control the players minds.
Ashens is a very popular British Youtube personality, and this is his second foray into feature film territory, the previous film being Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild (2013). He has co-written this film with Riyad Barmania, as well as produced it through a crowdfunding campaign. The film has a very modest budget and while the low budget is evident in the acting and production design, everything else is very high quality.
The opening animated sequence is purposefully reminiscent of a James Bond film, and the animation, while not perfect, sets the tone well, especially when accompanied by the fantastic opening song. The opening song builds up anticipation of the film, and is very James Bond-esque, almost like a power ballad.
The acting for the most part is very sub-standard and unfortunately seems to be a trend with a lot of these films made by Internet personalities; Lazer Team, Blood Fest, etc. The casting of popular Youtube personalities whose acting skills range from good to very bad, while obviously cashing in on their popularity, often has negative effects on the film. While some over-acting and hamminess can be accredited to the camp, tongue-in-cheek tone of the film, sometimes it borders on horrendously bad levels of over-acting. There is a scene where Ashens and his crew are planning the heist and Stuart Ashen and Eli Silverman get pepper sprayed multiple times. Each time this happens their reactions become more and more farcical in order to build up comedic effect but the over-acting, especially by Eli Silverman, becomes unwatchable.
Having said that though, Stuart Ashen and Eli Silvermann as the masterminds behind the heist, do give some of the better performances in the film. Though not great by any stretch of the imagination, it’s passable and just has the right amount of camp to suit the tone of the film. The rest of the cast, for the most part range from acceptable to downright terrible. In fact, the cast’s delivery of the script is quite bad that it made the script seem awful, when in actuality, the script is a pretty good, if formulaic, romp with some funny jokes that do land.
There are some funny jokes that land but there are quite a few that miss, especially in the physical humour side of things. Again, this could be due to the low budget, poor performances, or just a weak part of the script but the physical humour never finds a sweet spot and is overly silly to a point that it’s distracting. Especially a scene involving an iron, it was predictable and painfully not funny.
The film was shot very well but it couldn’t escape the low budget aesthetic of the film. There is only so much that can be done to try and shoot around wonky CGI, warehouse sets, and bad acting, but Riyad Barmania definitely did his best with what he was given. There are not memorable shots or stand-out moments, this was simply a run of the mill heist caper and while that isn’t a terrible thing, it also means that it leaves no lasting impression.
Ashens and the Polybius Heist is a fun little film that is non-offensive, and has some funny moments. Derivative to its core, and brings nothing new to the table but it’s a harmless bit of fun.