6 out 10

Director: Alex De Rakoff

Release Date: 30th October 2009

Cast: Tamer Hassan, Danny Dyer, Brenda Blethyn and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson with Ashley Walters, Robbie Gee, Monet Mazur, Omid Djalli, Alan Ford, Bronson Webb and Phil Davis

Writer: Alex De Rakoff


READ JOE PESCI’s counter review at the foot of the page – he loved this!!!

Thank god all the time put into sitting on my arse watching bad Danny Dyer (MEAN MACHINE) or Tamer Hassan (JACK FALLS) movies has paid off.  It’s been hard work to get to this point but at last I’ve found one that I can recommend.  Now to be fair it is fairly old so got released at the start of the downward film helter skelter this pair have been skidding around for the last couple of years.  But a good film is a good film nonetheless.  There’s much to like about this knockabout caper movie that comes over like a modern day Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  Tamer and Danny play two broke travel agents, Nick & Bing, who have put their dodgy life of crime behind them.  Only thing is an old unpaid debt to a big time American gangster, Mr Thigo (Rapper 50 CENT) floats to the top of their attention spans. This means that they must settle £100,000 within 24 hours or Tamer’s Mum gets her head blown off by shotgun wielding yob, Johhny Sands (PHIL DAVIS – ANOTHER YEAR).  A trawl of London’s dodgy geezers, dog races, assasinations, bad drugs and police chases ensue to generally humorous effect.

Dead Man Running is standard material but throws in a couple of surprises and  riffs on typical character arcs.  Tamer and Danny’s duo come across as likeable chaps and you want them to meet their deadly deadline by any means.  Tamer’s mum is played in lively fashion by Brenda Blethyn (LONDON RIVER) who proves to be a tough cookie and more than able to handle herself despite being wheelchair bound.  Her great way of taking it all in her stride is probably a clue to how come her son came out the way he has. Great support comes from familiar faces like Ashley Walters (ST. GEORGE’S DAY), Omid Djalili (SEX & THE CITY 2) and Robbie Gee (DESMOND’S), all contributing amply to the gallery of rogues.

Whilst not a game changer it is a solid little caper comedy through London’s seemier side.  Nice performances help from the leads boosting the proceedings with a  script that  is economic yet funny.  It certainly has enough ideas up it’s sleeve to get our likely lads out of an endless number of tight spots.  Its a shame that this may have been the last half decent team up between Tamer and Danny.  There has been the odd blip in their down trajectory but I hope one day they return to the former glories of the supremely entertaining The Business or Severance.

Come back Dyer, come back Hassan!  I want to see some more enjoyable and inventive little British capers like this.  Solid.

6 out 10 – Nothing new, but it’s still an above average UK gangster comedy yarn.



One thought on “DEAD MAN RUNNING


    Here’s an underdog film if ever there was one. Yet it’s hard man Tamer Hassan playing the underdog, the Dead Man Running. How on earth was this allowed to happen? Yet happen it did, and that it happened is rather marvellous, because this is one of Hassan’s best performances, in a film which is itself something of an unexpected gem. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much, but Dead Man Running delivers everything you could want of a modest knockabout black comedy-thriller set against a background of recession and blackmail.

    We have a standard gangster movie set-up: an ex-con (Tamer Hassan cast gloriously against type in his best role ever probably) is trying to go straight, but he owes a fortune to the token Yank money man (Curtis Jackson who possibly doesn’t quite know that he’s not in some slick/gritty thriller, the type where gangsters go around quoting poetry whilst putting bullets in knees – this is a good thing as it maintains the menace), who sportingly gives him 24 hours to find the dough. So far, so standard. But there are a few touches here and there which just make the film more real: if Hassan can’t cough up the cash, it’s his mum who’s for the chop; his effort to go straight involves opening a travel agency specialising in skiing holidays in Dubai; bailiffs have just repossessed his kitchen. It’s all a bit daft and lovable, but with an edge. In fact it’s as near to the spirit of Ealing comedy as we’re likely to get (this is a massive compliment). After all, most of that genre involved theft and mass murder.

    Thankfully the director can’t have told either Hassan or Dyer that the film was largely comic as there is very little ‘comedy’ acting going on; it’s played straight, enhancing both comedy and suspense: these blokes may be larky but they know they’re in trouble and don’t forget it.

    The producers made a massive mistake promoting this as a gritty urban gangster thriller; as a gritty urban gangster thriller it’s rubbish. As a kind of low-rent buddy-movie bromance thing it’s really rather good. Although it’s very laddish in a lot of ways and there’s a bit of fisticuffs and action, it isn’t the violent thug film which it pretends to be (and the Steven Segal-style title does it no favours either). It’s actually bizarrely sweet and affable at times, almost as if Hassan and Dyer had made a film which they wouldn’t be too worried about their mums seeing (I mean this in a good way). True, it’s not subtle (characters include ‘Bald Fat Fuck’ and ‘Sexy Little Bit’), but the film has a kind of well-meaning yet raucous swagger to it. There are moments of genuine tension, generally involving threats to innocent lives, and our heroes are never just coasting happily along for long. The threat of violence is always present, it’s just that the film doesn’t thrive on it. In fact, it’s witty (yes! who’d have thought Hassan and Dyer could pick a script with wit?), believable (enough – you wouldn’t mistake it for a fly-on-the-wall documentary), nicely performed, it lurches between genres with confidence (one minute it’s a heist film, then it’s hitman film, then it turns into a Mike Leigh film). There’s broad bottom-based comedy, improbable coincidences, great cameos, comedy prostitutes, dumb northerners, dumber cockneys, lots of hitting and shooting. Meanwhile, the relationship between Hassan and Dyer is perfect: this is the film we’ve been waiting for from these two, and everyone missed it. You absolutely believe they’ve been friends for years and have endured all sorts of scrapes for each other; after every knockback, Hassan is back on his feet and looking for the next opportunity, Dyer sometimes just having to grin and bear it – it’s very like the Trotters in Only Fools and Horses, but achieved in ninety minutes rather than 25 years.

    So our resourceful heroes are willing to try their luck at, well, anything: back-street fighting, the dogs, drugs, assassination, robbery, a visit to Manchester, forever (of course) being knocked back by the villain who needs them to fail as a warning to others (I took this to be some sort of comment on the way the money men always have the money even when there’s no money around, but I may just be reading that in, but on the other hand this is about someone trying to turn his life around and being thwarted in his semi-honest endeavours so maybe there’s something in it.)

    And I have yet to mention Brenda Blethyn and Phil Davis. These two veterans of the Mike Leigh studio turn up and quietly steal the film, Blethyn as Hassan’s wheelchair-bound mum (a role she was surely made for, though probably vice versa), and Davis as her ruthless kidnapper (if anyone’s going to go around killing disabled old ladies it’s Phil Davis – I mean that as a compliment). If Mike Leigh had made a thriller, perhaps called You Shouldn’t Have Done That, Love then this is what it would have been like.

    This is by no means a perfect film. there’s some clunky dialogue here and there, the bad guy has agents in the most improbable of places (one of which makes no sense at all), the bit with the bloke in the bank is I think deliberately bad, but this is a film which gets away with having a comedy Scotsman called Hamish McClintoch, which in itself wipes the slate clean of these minor misdemeanours.

    A genial caper film, with some outstanding performances, confidently put together, and plotted to perfection (in an admittedly old-fashioned way, but what’s wrong with that?), which should be much better known, and (and this is rare) is probably cleverer than it thinks it is. Please see this film. (I hope I haven’t over-hyped it now.) At the very least, it ought to be one of those films where people go ‘oh that’s a really good film even though I never heard of it.’
    7.5 out of 10

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