Honour is a film that addresses a topic that is far from honorable. Honor killings take place all over the world and take the lives of many people (mostly women) who have brought great shame and humiliation to their families. Many factors contribute to this form of murder: religion, marrying or having sex with a member of a different race, and so forth. Old fashioned thinkers believe it to be totally necessary to end the life of a loved one simply for going in a direction that is contrary to their family’s beliefs. This practice is atrocious and it is explored a bit in the lackluster Honour.
When young Mona, a Muslim-British girl played by the lovely Aiysha Hart (Atlantis, Djinn) falls in love and runs away with a young Punjabi man, Mona’s family becomes enraged and develops a strong sense of betrayal. In retaliation, Mona’s family hires a bounty hunter, played with just the right amount of brood by Paddy Considine (The World’s End, Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum). The majority of the film features the bounty hunter searching for Mona with flashbacks littered throughout giving the narrative a much needed bit of a spark.
There are a few aspects of Honour that simply don’t work. First of all, the flashbacks are all fine and good but they are used way too often. This could have been a far better picture had the plot flowed a bit more naturally. The viewer has to pay extra close attention to follow the zigzag structure of the story. Secondly, the film’s main topic of honor killings is handled in a very stylized and Hollywood way. Had the film gone a more indie/thriller route and delved more into the history and contemporary state of honor killings, I think this film would have been even better. The subject is handled a little too superficially and lacks the depth that it should have and could have achieved.
Newcomer Shan Khan has written and directed a decent film with Honour. Sure, it’s not perfect but it has a lot going for it. It shows that given the right subject matter, Khan can turn out a really great film. There is grit and a wealth of strong performances in Honour, mainly from Hart and Considine. Kahn’s occasional shaky camera and closeups really do set up the tense mood and in a film like this, it’s definitely a welcome factor.
Thrillers are a tricky film genre to tackle. The script must be tight and filled with tense dialogue. The actors must respond to said dialogue and through their interactions and chemistry with other actors, the film will truly take flight. I was disappointed with Honour because I felt it could have been a lot more. The script was a bit weak and it felt like your standard drama/thriller. The subject matter was also not handled well. Honor killings are an horrendous thing and Honour does an okay job addressing it. Shan Khan’s intentions were good with this film but I have a feeling his best work has yet to come.