PUSHER (2012)

5 out of 10

Release Date: 12th October 2012

Director: Luis Prieto

Cast: Richard Coyle, Agyness Deyn, Bronson Webb, Zlato Buric, Mem Ferda, Daisy Lewis with Paul Kaye and Neil Maskell

Writer: Nicholas Windin Refn / Matthew Read

Trailer: PUSHER

Unknown-1Nicholas Windin Refn produces this almost redundant UK remake of the first part of his Pusher Trilogy.  It’s an unusual choice because the original trilogy was essentially accessible enough despite being in the Danish language.  The trilogy presented us with the seedy world of drug deals gone bad, guns, nude women and the odd car-chase.  If you can’t read you could always watch the dubbed version on the DVDs.  Whats the point in remakes?  Usually we see an American version with a big American star in the lead.  In this UK version we have the vaguely well known posh boy Richard Coyle (OUTPOST 2).  Now I’m sorry, this is a stretch, he’s just too posh and clean cut to convince on any level as a scuzzy pusher.  His mockney accent trips up an otherwise committed and wired performance.  I wrote this weird accent off initially, maybe he had a privileged childhood but at three quarters of the way through Pusher we meet his high-rise dwelling mother. She’s so “LARRNDON”, she could have fallen straight out of the Eastenders prop cupboard. So there we are, the misgivings. It’s a dumb choice for a remake and the lead is mis-cast.  Does it work though? Is it a good film?

Pusher functions well as an above average rummage through London’s seemier side but we’ve been here many times before. Even when we don’t count the originals.  So onto the predictable plot, Frank borrows £50K worth of coke from Turkish heavy, Milo (ZLATO BURIC who replays his role from the trilogy) to sell to Marlon from Manchester.  The deal goes south.  Friends set him up and he ends up in hock and has to come up with the money within a few days or Milo’s mellow and calm oppo Hakan (MEM FERDA – THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE) will go to work on him.  His best friend is beyond helping him and all he has for solace is his mistreated and unloved girlfriend, Flo (AGYNESS DEYN).

The plot thunders along without a hint of invention to Windin-Refn style club scenes and a wonderful plastic electronic soundtrack by The Orb.  Visual ticks and a gift of matching music to pictures cannot save Pusher, alone.  It certainly makes it more palatable though. It’s unfortunate that we’ve been down this exact street not only in the originals, but also in a Danny Dyer / Tamer Hassan vehicle called Dead Man Running. Whereas Pusher is all doom and gloom, Dead Man Running had a lot of invention and humour where the characters will literally consider getting involved in any mad cap saga to get the money back to their tormentor.  Is humour the missing ingredient?  No but it worked a charm in the Dyer / Hassan flick.

Maybe the gangsters are too nice.  At the cost of any real tension, Milo and Hakan, alone are the most interesting roles.  Buric has admittedly had a lot of practice at playing Milo (fourth time around).  You get the sense that Milo is equally doomed if Frank can’t make the money up.  His reluctant assassin, Hakan is amazing. Telling Frank that everything will be OK and buying him a drink at the pub, there’s always a slight sigh as he reaches for a hammer or a gun. To him, a henchman is a job he has aspirations to leave behind but all this is conveyed through a look or shrug.  They just aren’t that fearsome unless they absolutely really have to be. They are both an interesting but a dramatic quandry. Neil Maskell (GHOSTED) pops up but is saddled with a terrible Manchester accent (why?) So he puts in a very very rare bad performance for once, but he’s not around enough to upset the applecart.  Bronson Webb (PAYBACK SEASON) is worth a mention as the energetic, pole dancer obsessed co-pusher Tony. But this is essentially, Richard Coyle‘s film and he can’t make us sympathetic for his plight. It doesn’t even work as a morality tale because pushing is the only thing he knows, so its unlikely he’ll ever leave the life behind.  The whole thing made me feel queasy in fact.

Pusher was released the same day as Taken 2 and I went to the late show (9pm-ish) on Saturday night and there were about 6 other people, maximum, in the screen and it’s been being taken off already.  It doesn’t bode well for the sequel remakes.  I for one won’t be back.

5 out of 10 – We’ve been here too many times. It’s above average and well played. A miscast Richard Coyle, who’s too posh and too old for the role, still gives an energised and committed performance but it’s still just another ‘drug deal gone wrong’ movie. There are nice directorial flourishes by director, Luis Prieto but it still smells and comes off like a dopey twin brother to Nicholas Windin Refn‘s Drive.  Vacant, efficient, pointless, entertaining.


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