Riz Ahmed is the glue that holds this pretty solid Brit-noir flick together, the entire thing hinging on his mad acting chops. He handles that pressure well.
That and the interesting flashback side story are the good aspects of City of Tiny Lights. The bad are the shoehorned, convenience-laden plot and painstakingly poorly-shot action. The former means that every time Riz’s private detective needs to find a clue, someone conveniently dies or reveals the path for him, minimizing any work he’d actually need to do to solve the case. And the latter, well, it’s inexcusable. All the action is shaky-cam ridden, motion-blur hazed garbage deliberately designed to hide that the actors can’t throw down for shit. It looks awful. Not to mention the camera randomly zooms in on people during routine over-the-shoulder shots and it’s the most obnoxiously distracting stylization choice I could never have imagined.
In the end, as stated above, Ahmed ultimately carries the flick with flying colors–but the plot is sloppy at best and the action middle-school grade amateur at worst.