After independently dabbling in tightly wound family drama and historical psychedelia alike, British director Ben Wheatley now takes a step into the big leagues on his latest film High-Rise, an abstract, hyper stylised, and genre-bending British sci-fi. With a directorial run of form that has gathered unfaltering pace since his 2009 debut feature Down Terrace, Wheatley here states his case as Britain's next great auteur.

The critically adored director has finally caught the attention of public and studios also, and to such a degree that he has been armed here with his biggest budget yet, a cast of stellar names, and relative freedom to adapt the J.G Ballard novel as he sees fit.

A melting pot of art-deco sensibilities, debauchery, and hyper-relevant social criticism, High-Rise may not be as purely innovative as A Field in England (2013), or as deeply affecting as Kill List (2011), but it is undeniably the work of an important filmmaker who possesses a war chest full of dazzling cinematic ideas.

Taking heavy cues from Nicolas Roeg, Joseph Losey, and a host of other British art-house directors, Wheatley constructs a visually impeccable world where everything from the eponymous building down to the cars in its lot are intricately composed, coordinated, and arranged. As a visual feat High-Rise is overwhelming, expertly crafting a universe that has never actually existed yet still feels wholly familiar.

The film charts the disintegration of a vertically arranged society, with the rich, powerful and arrogant residing at the tower's top, whilst the lower classes fall into place below. Electricity becomes scarce, forcing the residents of the lower levels to revolt, disrupting the flow of power to such an extent that the lines between class, motives and objects alike become increasingly blurred - Chaos essentially reigns on all twenty-five floors.

Shocking, sexy and intensely cool, the film's defining virtue is that it is able to consistently employ imagery and visual techniques that would seem over the top and extravagant in any other setting. Wheatley's dedication to the narrative logic of the novel, combined with his desire to take its contents to ever dizzying heights, results in a daring piece of cinema that is able to flawlessly execute complex visual ideas without ever veering into overindulgence.

Having said that, High-Rise's underlying message of modernist politics and capitalist class war is perhaps delivered bluntly, especially so in its final moments, and Tom Hiddlestone's lead performance often gets lost in the kaleidoscopic mix, but it is so rare to see a contemporary British film achieve such breathtaking stylistic heights that all can be somewhat forgiven.

High-Rise isn't strictly a case of style over substance, instead, it is a victim of its style being so brilliantly achieved that this element overshadows everything else. The substance is undoubtedly there, but it is so easy to get helplessly swept up in a current of tailored suits, prime colours and sweeping camera movements that substance often serves as an appetiser to the style's dessert.

Spectacle cinema but not as we know it, High-Rise is surely the year's most visually stunning mainstream film.