More noise than signal

The Business

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

If the trailer for the latest film from writer/director Nick Love seems a little familiar, it’s probably due to the immediately noticeable similarity to last years’ Football Factory. While Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan were then running around sounding threatening in a Cockerny accent in a football hooligan sort of way, they now segue into running around sounding threatening in a Cockerny accent in a Brit gangster operating in Spain sort of way.

Frankie (Dyer) winds up on the lam from the Met after some extreme lead pipe assisted cranial massage to some bloke giving grief to his dear mum. Sent to deliver a package to the local superstar crimelord Charlie (Hassan), he finds himself drawn into the Costa Del Crime’s drug smuggling community. This doesn’t please Charlie’s right hand nutter Sammy (Geoff Bell), Charlie’s oldest and most psychotic friend from his Peckham bank-robbing days. Sammy takes an instant dislike to the youngster, probably compounded by the lusty looks his nubile young lady friend Carly (Georgina Chapman) is giving Frankie.

Covering the gangs ascent from small scale marijuana dealers to the major suppliers of coke to a greedy Thatcherite Lahndaan and their eventual downfall, The Business covers the usual bases of mistrust, dirty deeds, bent officials and backstabbing, all with a cheeky cockerny wideboy slant to it. Awww, ain’t those amoral criminal bastards just so darn lovable with their funny accents! Gor blimey guv, apples and pears and so on.

That’s pretty much the meat and bones of it, and while it’s something of a lazy way to sum it up it’s not far off Lock Stock but without the funny bits. Seeing as it’s set in the midst of the eighties, the decade where fashion took a holiday, it’d almost be expected to be without the style of Ritchie’s outing but Love keeps things visually stimulating, albeit occasionally due more to the unholy combinations of hair spray and shell suits on display.

It’s enough to keep things ticking over, but it’s not quite enough to make me care about any of the characters. The problem with filling a film with anti-heroes is that you wind up asking people to identify with the least nasty nasty guy, rather than anyone you (or at least I) would want to be anything like. When Frankie gets his eventual, inevitable happy ending it’s nigh on impossible to actually feel happy for the little hooligan scumbag, no matter how far his station had dropped just prior to this point.

I’ll give it some credit for balance, as while the first hour is all sunbeams, flash cars, wads of cash and disgusting celebrity after Charlie gets a bit too greedy and pushes the local authorities hard enough that they push back, confiscating everything Charlie’s worked so hard to steal, the scrabbling around in the dust for the organised crime equivalent of scraps off the table looks as appealing as a hearty kick in the happy sacs. It does glamorise it’s fictional criminal lifestyle more than is healthy for society and more importantly for it’s own enjoyability, but at least it does have the balls to show the flipside which Football Factory singularly failed to.

Dyer and Hassan mug their way through the film in eminently acceptable fashion, but until the last half hour they’re not being called on to do much more than sneer and extol cockney gangsterisms. Bell performs similarly, minus any change in the last half hour. Fair enough, but you may be left wanting more. Like a reason to emphasise with criminal ne’erdowells.

Enough of the point labouring already. The Business proves to be a perfectly passable way to spend a couple of hours, which rather tragically puts it in contention for this summer’s best film. Slim pickings this season, folks. Enough backhanded compliments already. The Business proves to be a decent enough addition to the Britflick Cockney Gangster Contingent, which seems to account for half of all British films made since Get Carter. It’s eighties stylings give it an interesting twist, although the actual plotline was only fresh in an era far earlier than that decade.

If it’s a choice between this and Layer Cake this shouldn’t have the merest hint of a look in, but if shiny newness floats your boat you could do worse than this.

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