The Ukrainian director Oleh Sentsov famously doesn’t pull his punches. Previously sentenced to 20 years in prison by Moscow – the charge was terrorism, his crime was speaking out against the Russian annexation of Crimea – he was released in a prisoner swap and went on to make films that are every bit as muscular and confrontational as his political presence.
The latest, Rhino, is a morality tale that unfolds in a 90s Ukrainian underworld full of bullet-headed hard men intent on creating chaos and division. But even among the other gangsters, Vora (Serhii Filimonov), an unstoppable force nicknamed Rhino, is regarded with a degree of trepidation. Described as “a piece of shit with no brakes” by a rival boss, he ploughs through his enemies like an out-of-control threshing machine. He’s not, it has to be said, a particularly interesting or nuanced character. But Sentsov’s deft direction – in particular a bravura single-shot, early-life montage – makes this gory rise and fall story a horribly compelling watch.
On digital platforms from 16 May