Cumberbatch is PTSD-suffering soldier Wallace, whose former comrade and life-saver, Salmon, calls in the titular little favour, apparently to take care of his 12-year-old daughter ‘for a few days’ after ‘a bad deal got worse’. What blindsides Wallace is that James is bluffing. Rather than keeping his daughter out of harm’s way, he is deliberately trying to put her — and Wallace — into it.
The gestures towards Wallace’s shaky life are nicely played: the echoes of past dialogue, the text message from the disgruntled date (although with an unfortunate time stamp of mid-afternoon, which distracts!). His home is an odd industrial one that couldn’t look ‘homely’ if it tried, and yet he has gone to the trouble of putting up art on the walls. The one that the camera momentarily focuses on is a boy with a solider’s helmet and a grenade emerging from the wall, loaded because that is essentially what Salmon has turned his daughter into: a child ‘strong’, with a ‘purpose’, and very capable with a gun, enough to take out a large proportion of their kidnappers before Wallace is even really ready for action.
The violent encounters are played well, although there are odd moments, like Wallace’s slow-motion headbutt, out of time with the action before or after it. Wallace is rusty, but with odd moments of invincibility, suggesting who he once was.
Cumberbatch’s frown is still Sherlock’s, detached, although he otherwise plays the fraying nerves of a PTSD sufferer convincingly. That Sherlock-frown is still a little distracting, given that he is supposed to be the least together of all the cast. Salmon and Paris Winter Monroe both play cold extremely well indeed.
One thing that really struck me was that, side-by-side, Salmon makes Cumberbatch look like a slip of a boy. It’s not really surprising, as there’s a 4″ height difference, but it certainly struck me when watching them side-by-side, and the directing plays with it deliberately to emphasise the real imbalance between the two characters. It was certainly very different to see Cumberbatch leading Martin Freeman around!