Honour is a British film about the topical issue of honour killings that take place – at the rate of 12 a year – right here in the UK and at the rate of 5,000 worldwide. The directorial debut of scriptwriter Shan Khan is a brave attempt to make an entertaining and thought-provoking thriller that ‘[doesn’t] feel or look like a worthy drama-documentary,’ but he doesn’t have the skill to pull it off.
Mona (Aiysha Hart) is a pretty, vivacious young Muslim woman working as an estate agent. whose conservative Pakistani mother (Harvey Virdi) and older brother, Kasim (Faraz Ayub) learn of her plans to runaway with her Punjabi boyfriend. A culture clash has been brewing in this otherwise comfortable West London house since the moderate father’s death. Mona, who no longer wears a head scarf and is already sleeping with her boyfriend, is unaware that Kasim is using his position as a police officer to trick and trap her. When Mona manages to escape her fate, the mother hires a white bounty hunter (Paddy Considine) to track her down.
Khan cleverly turns this issue-based drama into a woman-on-the-run thriller with mixed results. His non-linear structure is initially confusing but helps build the tension and keep us guessing. The mother and Kasim are one-dimensional black and white villains while a burial scene produces a cheap trick belong more in one of those slasher movies where no one is ever really dead.
Those wondering why the personable Mona doesn’t have any friends or other relatives whose help she might enlist will not linger over this omission after bounty hunter Considine is introduced. Considine is good enough to make us see the potential in this interesting plot turn, but all the talent in the world is no match for the contrived predictability of what follows. The producers, if not Khan, should have realised that adding a charismatic, redemptive former white supremacist halfway through the story is one plot and one main character too many.