5 out of 10

Release Date:  9th March 2012

Director:  David L G Hughes

Cast: Paul Freeman, Ty Glaser, Scot Williams, Peter Wight, Adrian Bower, Laura Greenwood, Nathaniel Martello-White, Phillip Barantini, Elizabeth Berrington, Danny Sapani with Ian Hart and Rene Zagger

Writer: David L G Hughes


219608_172978516090335_148589421862578_378530_3108519_o1Hard Boiled Sweets swaggers onto screens like it’s the last coca-cola in the desert.  Like a dog that thinks it’s invented licking its own balls, whilst the all the other dogs discovered the art days ago.  In presenting the UK gangster flick as something fresh and new by replacing a few metaphoric lightbulbs and a giving it a new, shiny coat of paint, the makers have fooled no one.  There is virtually nothing new and nothing fresh about Hard Boiled Sweets.  It’s parade of witty comparisons between gangsters and boiled sweets is arch rather than funny.  And the cod-Guy Ritchies stylistic ticks got up my nose. So, so far so so-so, but are their any good points?

Yes, there are. In presenting the film like it’s the coolest thing you’ll ever see this year, its certainly sets out a persuasive store.  The film is well-cast with a group of actors that are permanently on the verge of becoming household names.  A few of them have been around decades, yet you can’t put your finger on where you’ve seen them. The two older gangsters, Shrewd Eddie (PAUL FREEMAN – A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING) and Jimmy The Gent (PETER WIGHT – CLONE) are brilliantly cast against type.  Both are unusual choices to play merciless hard-men but they pull off their roles with ease.  Elsewhere in the cast The Bill alumnus Rene Zagger, impresses the most as a doomed bent copper on the take.  The labyrinth plot is well written and structured.  It isn’t hard to follow and all of the characters move around the board accordingly, all having enough room to breathe a modicum of life into their compositions.  The cinematography is slick and not too gimmicky. The neon seafront and pier give the setting of Southend On Sea an otherworldly feel and it’s probably no mistake that the brightly light store fronts and slot arcades are evocative of colourful boiled sweets.

Hard Boiled Sweets is a confident debut with a lot of ego.  It could have been better if the outcome weren’t so inevitable and there was a little more room for the characters to expand.  Certain characters like Adrian Bower‘s (TEACHERS) pimp, Gerry get a bit lost in the shuffle. The running time is very slender that doesn’t help matters.  The whole thing feels like it’s setting up to a big pay off and then it’s all over too quickly.  Admittedly it is a hard act to pull off juggling so many warring characters into the same story.  It’s all very well acted but ultimately, it’s all a bit stale. As slick and new as it all looks, any one with a pair of eyes can see that we’re being sold the same dog again and again.  Saying that, it is a fairly rare crime caper that features more than one prominent woman.

5 out of 10 – A confident, ego-tastic, well-told UK gangster story with an unusual but great cast.  Maybe the makers’ second film will be an improvement on this as there’s fundamentally very little wrong with it.  It’s just ordinary beyond words, which is a great shame.


  • Paul Freeman: Death (2014), Getaway, CenturionA Fantastic Fear Of Everything, Hot Fuzz, Powers Rangers – The Movie, Just Like a Woman, Indiana Jones and The Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Long Good Friday
  • Ty Glaser: Psychosis
  • Scot Williams: K-Shop, Taking Stock, Redirected, Liverpool One (TV), Clubbed,  The Crew, Backbeat
  • Peter Wight: Kon Tiki, Mr Turner, The Look Of LoveCloneGhosted, Best Laid Plans (2012)Another Year, Cass, Hot Fuzz, Babel, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Vera Drake, Shiner, Naked, Meantime
  • Adrian Bower: The Waiting Room, Teachers (TV)
  • Phillip Barantini: Genesis, Cryptic, World War Dead, Ned Kelly (2003), Band of Brothers (TV)
  • Elizabeth Berrington: Stella (TV), Waterloo Rd (TV), Psychoville (TV), Moving Wallpaper(TV), In Bruges, Nanny McPhee, A Cock and Bull Story, The Office (TV),Quills, The Little Vampire, Mad Cows, Onegin, 8.5 Women,  Secrets & Lies, Naked
  • Nathaniel Martello-White: Life Just Is
  • Danny Sapani: Trance, Mercenaries, Ultimate Force (TV), The Bill (TV)
  • Ian Hart: Dough, Boardwalk Empire (TV), A Boy Called Dad, Morris – A Life With Bells On, Breakfast On Pluto, A Cock and Bull Story, Rag Tale, Finding Neverland, Blind Flight, Killing Me Softly, Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, Strictly Sinatra, Born Romantic, Liam, Best, The Closer You Get, The End Of The Affair, Wonderland (1999), This Year’s Love, Enemy Of The State, B-Monkey, Mojo, The Butcher’s Boy, Michael Collins, The Hollow Reed, Nothing Personal, Clockwork Mice, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Land and Freedom, Backbeat, The Hour and The Times
  • Rene Zagger: Interview With a Hitman, The Bill (TV)

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