FILM REVIEW: Ashens and the Polybius Heist (2020)

Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been a huge fan of Ashens for years now, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out another film was in the works.

Having already made Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild in 2013, the gang is back for another epic nerdy adventure involving the mysterious Polybius arcade machine.

For those who don’t know, Polybius is an urban legend involving a fictitious 1980s arcade game. This game was apparently part of a psychology experiment, with gameplay producing intense psychoactive and addictive effects in the player. Scary stuff.

In Ashens and the Polybius Heist, tat collector Stuart Ashen is back and this time it’s very personal. He’s keen to get his hands on this Polybius machine, and puts together a team to help him on his latest quest. Can this thing really control people’s minds, and why does Ashens want it?

The film was directed and co-written by Riyad Barmania, who also brought us the brilliant short film Another Game in 2017. As soon as I found out he was attached to the project, it made me even more keen to watch it.

Any avid YouTube watcher (myself included) will no doubt be delighted with the line up. They’ve really brought together a great cast for this one, including Barshen’s own Barry Lewis and Eli Silverman, Daniel Hardcastle from NerdCubed, and even one Cousin Dan.

Meanwhile Red Dwarf legend Robert Llewellyn reprises his role as The Professor, actor and impressionist Katia Kvinge joins the cast as Vocal, and Stuggy takes on the role of the film’s antagonist. So there’s plenty of great talent to look forward to in this film!

Forming a gang of misfits known as the No-Confidence Crew, they embark on a dangerous mission to try and retrieve Polybius from the hands of Antony Agonist. The story becomes even more complicated when Ashens’ own family get involved…

Despite its obvious comedic nature, something that really impressed me about the film was the unexpected emotional moments. There’s something about Ashens complex relationship with his father and sister that really moved me, and I was so impressed with the way it was acted out. It was balanced well against the film’s funnier elements.

It’s also a huge step up from Game Child, and you can definitely see where everyone has improved. The editing was more polished, there’s an awesome title sequence, and it just feels like such a well-rounded film. The team have come a long way since 2013, and I’m sure they’ll continue to get even better.

Ashens and the Polybius Heist is a love letter to nerds, bringing this urban legend to life in a playful, yet sometimes serious way. We all love a good heist film and this one plays on the common tropes, with plenty of great cultural references throughout.

It certainly helps if you’re already an Ashens fan, but there’s plenty here for outsiders to enjoy too. It’s packed with British humour, awkwardness, and it truly is a film made by nerds, for nerds. The film embraces its own ridiculousness, while incorporating all the great elements of a heist film. It’s fast paced, frantic, and full of heart.

So strap in, don’t read any spoilers, grab some popcorn, and enjoy this wonderfully entertaining film. Given the state of the world in 2020, we could all use some silly escapism and that’s exactly what this is.

Ashens and the Polybius Heist is available to watch from today (19th November). To see the film for yourself, head to and choose your favourite platform. Enjoy!

You can also watch the trailer below:


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