I’m not the biggest fan of the recent spate of low budget UK Gangster films we’ve been subjected to over the past several years. I find them utterly tedious, badly made, lazily scripted (saying the F-word continuously, does not a script make) and mostly pointless rip-offs of Lock Stock (still) or The Business (still), but I’ve recently been taken by surprise by two, fairly similar, Gangster movies. The first is We Still Kill The Old Way, which aside from the insane amount of swearing, is a very entertaining, Young Vs. Old revenge thriller. And now we have The Guvnors, which in many ways is the same kind of film, but it still holds up reasonably well on its own merits.
The basic gist of the story is that the younger generation of criminals led by Adam (a surprisingly good, if one-note Harley Sylvester) is making their move on the manor once ruled by the well known firm run by Mitch (a solid performance from Doug Allen), who left the criminal life many years ago. One thing leads to another and an inciting incident (one very similar to the one in WSKTOW) causes Mitch to bring his old gang back together in an entertaining montage to face the younger gang in a fight to settle who runs the place once and for all. It’s all about respect here, although I find the concept of this kind of “respect” to be nothing less than hilarious.
Overall The Guvnors is much better than I expected but I do have some niggles:
There is way too much set-up - the old Gang comes together around 53 minutes into the film, which finishes around half an hour later. The actors playing the Gang - Paul Reynolds, Vas Blackwood, Tony Denham and Jay Simpson - are really good value, but getting them all together this late means we never really have the opportunity to see them interacting much before the final showdown.
There is very little backstory to some of the main characters, and some supporting characters such the Police Officers, seemingly turn up at random and then disappear again.
Also the film really drags in places, it feels padded.
Having said all that, the film is well shot by the cinematographer James Friend, and the soundtrack is good. David Essex is almost unrecognisable in his role but does a great job here, and Harley Sylvester really is surprisingly good as the lead villain.
It may not be for everyone, but you could do a lot worse than checking The Guvnors out.
The Guvnors will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 24th December in the UK by Metrodome.