Complicity (1993) is the first and only of Iain Bankss books to have been adapted to the big screen to date. The film is directed by Gavin Millar, a fellow Scot who also made the fine Dennis Potter scripted Dreamchild (1985) about the aging Alice Liddell, and also directed the abovementioned adaptation of The Crow Road. Unfortunately, considering the readability that Iain Bankss books have on the page, Complicity is a disappointment.
It starts out resembling a British political conspiracy thriller like Defence of the Realm (1983) or tv mini-series such as Edge of Darkness (1985), Natural Lies (1992), Fields of Gold (2002) and State of Play (2003). This turns out not to be the case and what starts out as a political conspiracy story takes a dogleg and turns into a serial killer thriller. Gavin Millar fails to generate much in the way of suspense in either the red herring political conspiracy plot or the numerous flashbacks to Jonny Lee Millers teenage years. There are some moderately kinky sex scenes involving ice cubes, bondage and rape fantasies, and a couple of moderately nasty killings, but Gavin Millar fails to get worked up about much at all. Complicity is unfortunately rather dull.
Iain Bankss books tend to centre around bizarre psychological behaviour that suddenly coalesces into a surprise revelation as the protagonist pieces together a jigsaw of clues from their past. Complicity tends to work the best when we get to the scenes with Jonny Lee Miller in police interrogation trying to piece together half-forgotten elements from his past in order to work out why he is being framed for the killings. There is a passably well-written climactic confrontation between Miller and the killer with both debating about the morality of their actions but little else. The films failing is the case of a director failing to tap into the inner voice that an author captures so well.