4 out of 10

Released: 3 September 2010

Director:  Sascha Bennett (Tango One / We Still Steal The Old Way / We Still Kill The Old Way / Get Lucky / Outside Bet)

Cast: Tamer Hassan, Vincent Regan, Terry Stone, Adam Deacon, Neil Maskell, Dave Legeno, Simon Phillips, Johnny Palmiero, Robert Fucilla with Chris Ellison and Kierston Wareing

Writer: Sascha Bennett & Graeme Muir


The fascination with the infamous “Rettendon Landrover Murders” by the UK film industry makes this the third go around in under ten years.  First there was The Essex Boys starring Sean Bean and then the case was covered again to some degree in Rise Of The Foot Soldier.  The latter even features a few of the same actors.  Three times lucky is more a case of twice too many this time.  Bonded By Blood plods a very well trodden path, one that wallows in excess and false hero worship.  The unsolved murders of three high profile Essex hard men is an intriguing brew and we get a look behind the curtain at what these men may have been like to know. Unfortunately, there are few insights shined upon in a script littered with the word c*nt and poorly executed fight / action scenes.  Fans of Tamer Hassan (THE FOOTBALL FACTORY) won’t be disappointed with his unhinged drug hoover who seems to be in competition with a very energetic Terry Stone (ROLLIN’ WITH THE NINES) to see how much stage cocaine they can stick up their noses.  I don’t doubt the authenticity involved but the pacing and plotting make it a thoroughly pointless exercise.  Top billing Vincent Regan (300) doesn’t seem to know where he is, I’ve seen phoned in performances but never in the driving seat.  Adam Deacon (4-3-2-1) should stick to playing angry teenagers, he seems out of depth and his stature make him an unconvincing gangster. He fares better in the recent his self-penned and directed Anuvahood. It would seem he’s got a real flare for comedy.  Bonded By Blood gets a few points for Neil Maskell (GHOSTED) who is thoroughly horrible and on point as one of the three murder victims.  Everytime he gets a scene the film picks up.  Hopefully after Kill List he gets to leave this kind of boring gangster crap behind. Still its streets ahead quality wise, acting wise and script wise than the scrappy Fall Of The Essex Boys, which is true waste of time.  But both of these films only serve to make Rise Of The Footsoldier appear to be more of a classic than it really is.

Fairly competent then, but pedestrian beyond belief. It makes you wonder why they tackled a story thats been done twice already and better.  I think it’s a lack of imagination.

2.5 out 10 – Gangsters have never made me feel so sleepy.



One thought on “BONDED BY BLOOD

  1. REVIEW BY MATT USHER aka JOE PESCI II… hahaha. It’s funny.

    Here’s an oddity. This film is average, a bit dull and annoying. It would be fairly forgettable as the following plot summary might suggest: some drug dealers kill some other drug dealers; so I was wondering just what I could say about it. Then the end-captions came up. Now, I love a good end-caption. They bring us back down to earth, remind us what an exciting time we (may) have just had. They can make us feel angry at the sheer injustice of it all, or maybe raise a smile. And they’re usually pretty straightforward. But these captions are utterly baffling. They tell us that a journalist by the name of Bernie believes that the convicted killers are innocent and is campaigning to free them. The problem is that the preceding ninety minutes of cinematic tedium have demonstrated how and why the convicted men (i.e. the ones who say they’re innocent) committed the deed. The film is allegedly based on the books this Bernie fellow has written.

    Now, I’ve not read Bernie’s books, and all I know about the Rettendon Land Rover Murders is what I’ve seen in this film. But we have a situation where a crusading journalist (Bernie) is asking the viewer (me, and if you’re a fool, you) to believe innocent men are in jail when they have been portrayed in the film of the book as being ruthless killers. I’m pretty certain that if I’d written a book claiming someone was innocent and that book then got turned into a film which said EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE I’d probably be a bit agitated. Though possibly not as agitated as the convicts. I hope they weren’t pinning their hopes on Bonded by Blood persuading the Home Secretary that a miscarriage of justice has taken place. It’s certainly a novel campaigning tactic.

    Have the producers made the wrong film? Did they read Bernie’s books? Has Bernie seen the film? Maybe the script got altered a bit. Maybe – ah! this is it – maybe the original draft featured Bernie (played by Vincent Regan) investigating the case and finding that it’s not as watertight as the law believes. But then, on the day he comes in to work, Regan found himself playing a deeply dull though unintentionally humorously hypocritical small-time gangster and was a bit dazed about it all. It’s the only explanation for Regan’s bizarrely bad performance. I remember him being good once but here it’s as if he has awoken from a thousand year sleep. At the other end of the spectrum is Neil Maskell, who seems to have his own personal script writer in attendance to give him good speeches like his somewhat jaundiced analysis of society between the sixties and the nineties (honestly it’s a highlight). True, he also c***s away to little effect (more of that later) but nevertheless he steals the film, playing it dead straight, whereas Terry Stone (odiously oily) and Tamer Hassan (as a loveable psycho – there’s a stretch) enjoy themselves a bit too much.

    I liked Adam Deacon as the innocent being sucked in, but he was less convincing the deeper his character got. And the psychology is hilarious. We know he’s a bad ‘un after he complains against the c***s who dare to serve him an out of date fish. (In the ensuing riot, see if you can spot the prison warder who cuddles a prisoner into submission.) He (Deacon, not the warder) later calls Tamer Hassan a c*** from Predator and lives, thus proving his hard man credentials. Oh dear.

    As usual in this sort of film the women are either bores or whores, providing (a) breasts and (b) something to shout at/beat up. Admittedly, in the world these men

    inhabit they would indeed be surrounded by such women, but the tone of the film suggests that this is OK. The women’s dialogue is dire. Poor Kierston Wareing is saddled with tripe like ‘Are you one of the good guys Mickey?’ and ‘You f***ing c***’ (This of course in response to Tamer Hassan’s line, ‘You f***ing c***.’ I think they then shout ‘You f***ing c***’ at each other a few more times thus emphasising that their marriage is on the rocks.) It’s more than a little worrying when a comedy prostitute is the only believable female character on view. (She is funny though.)

    The other comic highlight is poor Jonathan. He gets kidnapped, tortured, force-fed some drug or other, burned with cigarettes, stripped naked (no visible genitalia obviously – that would be wrong) and urinated on by our lovable drug dealing psychos. That’s not the funny bit, though I suspect we’re meant to derive some entertainment from the sequence. What is funny is the shorthand way the film-makers have devised to demonstrate what kind of guy Jonathan is. We first see him as he rushes to help an old lady who has dropped her shopping. You know immediately he’s a goner. What’s more ambiguous is whether we should be empathising with his plight or laughing at the loser’s fate. Or laughing at the cack-handed staging of the scene. We don’t know if he lives or dies, or even if he ever actually existed. It doesn’t matter because he is there simply to demonstrate how hard these hard men are. (They’re very hard.)

    We also know they’re hard because they swear quite a lot. The word ‘c***’ is spouted approximately 64 times. Make of that what you will. Sample dialogue ‘You f***ing c***’ ‘F*** off you c***’ ‘F*** you, you c*** f***ing c***’ for 92 tedious minutes.

    Finally, thankfully, we see the infamous land rover. Now, I understand that this is the Rettendon land rover murders. (I think it’s Rettendon). But Rettendon is a dull place. The land rover is a dull vehicle. It plays little part in the killings (I thought they’d maybe been run over a lot but no). And yet we get significant shots of the land rover when it appears, with doomy chords on the soundtrack to tell us, this is the land rover. I’m still trying to work out if the murders themselves are a triumph of directorial understatement or just cobbled together by someone who hasn’t worked out how to film inside a car.

    After watching Bonded by Blood I watched The Great British Bake-Off which supplied significantly more suspense, excitement and mystery than this drivel. And there’s a contestant who looks like he’ll slaughter anyone who gets in his way. And the single use of the word ‘bloody’ was more shocking than all the ‘f***ing c***s’ spouted by this shower of f***ing c***s.

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