The film has a simple enough premise- a group of no good hoodie-wearing thugs attack and kill a pensioner. Unfortunately for them, the pensioner was a retired gangster, and his ageing cohorts want revenge, and will go to any lengths to get it. What makes the film stand out amongst others of its genre is that it writer Dougie Brimson, along with director Sacha Bennett, have made a conscious effort to address the obvious changes in the gangster genre. If the gangster genre is anti-establishment and meant to be used as a social commentary, which traditionally it has, then there’s been very little to come out of British cinema in recent years; which is strange given the political climate, so it is exhilarating to see a film that finally does just that.
The two gangs- the youths and the pensioners, could almost come from two different films. The youths are of the Kidulthood, Ill Manors ilk (with some of the same cast) and the old boys could have been plucked from the Italian Job, Villain, or even the later Guy Ritchie numbers, and it’s this clash of ideals that serves the narrative. The older gang still believe in respect – being courteous and well dressed, whilst the youths run around causing havoc. However, this isn’t a case of ‘look at the youth today, the country is going down the pan’, it’s more of an observation of the two generations failure to communicate; and that is an essential issue that surrounds modern day Britain. Both sides are the bad guys, or the good guys depending on how you look at it. Both are anti-establishment, and have a common enemy in the police.
The film is, as ever, not without its problems. The cinematography is botched, with some attempts to be stylish that just come across as amateur, and the casting of the youths does little to dispel the myths that all teenagers from poor backgrounds fail in stringing a sentence together. There is however a perfect piece of casting in Danni Dyer, daughter of Danny, who seems to have taken the torch with ease and will undoubtedly be a staple in other films of a similar genre.
With a long run of films of this genre being genuinely awful, it’s refreshing to see something new and exciting that brings promise to the gangster flick. It’s a lot of fun, and whilst it’s totally corrupt morally, isn’t that what gangster films are meant to be anyway?