Movie Review: I Came By

Credit: @Netflix


I Came by is a THRILLER movie directed by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Babak Anvari that describes two childhood friends, Toby (George MacKay) and Jay (Percelle Ascott), who are graffiti activists. They made waves by penetrating the homes of the elites and engraving the phrase “I Came by” on their walls. Soon enough, Jay learns that his lover Naz (Varada Sethu) will have a baby for him after their last successful job. So, with a sense of obligation to his unborn child, he chooses his priorities and opts out of the graffiti operation.

He is at loggerheads with his widowed mum (Macdonald) and disappointed by his only friend.

Kelly Macdonald plays Toby’s mother, a therapist. Touching on the split between her and her son and alluding that it has to do with Toby’s late father and the inheritance she won’t grant Toby. This defines Toby as someone who despises the rich but also pushes away his mum because of money. Macdonald is excellent as a struggling mother caught up in her son’s malevolent misadventure.

Toby embarks on the following operation alone. This led him to the house of a former judge, Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville). As Toby barges into Blake’s home and uncovers a secret buried deep in the cellar, he switches to another mission, not minding risking his life and that of his loved ones. There’s no point ruining the fun, so you will have to watch and discover what Toby saw in the basement.

Credit: @Netflix

The setting is modern London, and each plot element hides a deeper meaning.

Hector Blake does everything possible to protect his reputation and even steps down from the hypocritical judicial system to make a statement. However, his liberal position is a smoke screen to something much grimmer.
I love how the story progresses from one character to another, like digging through in search of that person who’s allowed to be the hero. The story has similar issues, being more carefully written than your average thriller but devoid of suspense. Viewers unfamiliar with this genre may judge it as a benchmark production, but even those who observed that bright touch wondered why it wasn’t more. I would think.

Anvari also throws in some neat hints reminiscent of other movies.

It’s no accident that Henry Purcell’s Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary – playing while the camera pans across Toby’s room. This is the exact song that Wendy Carlos turned into the focus music for A Clockwork Orange.

Well-acted but lost in the details.

Admittedly, this movie does an excellent job of keeping viewers engaged. However, there’s a mixture of cliches in the plot, especially regarding the final arc, and Toby may not be the most logical character with a lasting motive.
There is a lot of content and subject matter to consider. Especially when it relates to present and past events. How much do you know about the celebrities you so much love? If they were exposed to the world, would the scale of their crimes be believed?

I Came By has prospects, but one tends to get lost in its ideas. Probably the movie would have fared well if it had been broken up into mini-series that gave specific subplots and characters exposure to hold space and devotion to breathe. The movie does well until the midpoint,

Credit: @Netflix

then slowly hobbles towards the finish line. Adding new twists to the genre and making clever choices to sustain the plot is worth a look. Ultimately, it’s not revolutionary.

The Verdict

I came by is beyond doubt well-constructed and thrilling enough for its failures to be overlooked. It is a less-than-grand rewrite. However, Bonneville is worth checking out, even if the final pin-drop above the credits suggests its superficiality.

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