Starring: Richard Coyle, Bronson Webb, Agyness Deyn
You may like this if you liked: Pusher (Nicolas Winding Refn, 1996), Dead Man Running (Alex De Rakoff, 2009), Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer, 2000)
Frank (Coyle) is a London drug pusher, in debt but good at what he does and he lives a good life. However, when deal goes very wrong he is forced to destroy the drugs but now owes the supplier, dangerous gangster Milo (Zlatko Buric) a serious amount of money. However, with no one left to turn to, he is forced to resort to extremes to acquire all this money.
I never saw the Norwegian original from 1996 and but I hope it was a damn sight better than this. Firstly, it contains hardly the most original plot and so is going to have to do something a bit different to stand out against what is quite frankly an already overcrowded genre. Unfortunately, if anything it is even worse.
Usually films of this genre contain the old cliché of a protagonist who was perhaps born into this world and is desperate to get out, or maybe they are protecting a family member. We are usually given some reason to care about a protagonist who is essentially a criminal. However here we are given simply nothing, Frank is simply a criminal living a life by pushing class A drugs. As his life begins to spiral out of control surely it is only a good thing that he may get a bullet in the head as it means there is one less criminal on the streets of London.
Without a protagonist to really care about, the whole thing feels completely pointless and empty. This is a shame as Richard Coyle (though he will always be Jeff from Coupling to me) gives an excellent performance and has the potential to be likeable if his character was actually given some redeeming features. There are also some excellently crafted individual moments and the base heavy score provided by Orbital, though a little clichéd is used very effectively. The whole plot plays out shoddily and predictably, covering most of the clichés along the way and all the usual London underworld caricatures. There is a slight twist at the end, though slightly unexpected, as we still do not really care about the protagonist it is very hard to have any emotional reaction to it. A predictable plot can be fine, if the action is slick and there is a likeable protagonist. However, for the reasons I have just explained the whole thing feels extremely pointless despite the action sequences actually quite well crafted.
If you are after a slick British gangster film, there are plenty of superior offers out there such as Sexy Beast as despite some individually good moments, Pusher is a completely pointless and empty waste of 90 minutes of your life.