2 out of 10
Release Date: 8th of February 2013
Director: Paul Tanter (No Easy Days (TV) / He Who Dares 2 / Meet The Firm – White Collar Hooligan 3 / Shame The Devil / The Hooligan Wars / He Who Dares / Essex Boys Retribution / White Collar Hooligan 2 / The Rise Of The White Collar Hooligan / Jack Falls)
Cast: Nick Nevern, Ewan Ross, Robert Cavanah, Peter Barrett, Jay Brown with Kierston Wareing and Kate Magowan also Simon Phillips, Peter Woodward, Charlie Bond with Tony Denham and Eddie Webber
Writer: Stephen Reynolds
Trailer: THE FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS
Whilst Fall Of The Essex Boys offers up a new theory behind what really happened ‘that’ night in Rettendon back in 1995, Paul Tanter‘s version still fails to better any of the three previous cinematic visitations. I think this version relies too heavily on the fact that it’s audience are already particularly familiar with the story. Events are torn through at the speed of light and it rarely sits down or loses pace for a second. And that’s Fall Of The Essex Boys‘ main problem, it’s a scribble of a movie whereas; Rise Of The Footsoldier was a cult classic in waiting, Bonded By Blood was a folly of over acting and ego and Essex Boys wasn’t at all interested in any of the facts at all. Fall Of The Essex Boys uses a fat marker pen to underline every event in the lead up to the famous murders at every point. So to those that don’t know, here’s the briefest of overviews.
Top dog drug dealers, Pat Tate, Tony Tucker and Craig Rolfe get executed in Rettendon in 1995. Supergrass Darren Nicholls put the word on Mickey Steele and Jack Whomes, both of whom are serving life imprisonment. But is that the whole story? There are different theories into who was really behind the killings, a popular one being that it was the Police themselves.
Paul Tanter‘s last film, Rise and Fall Of a White Collar Hooligan was well received and displayed a marked improvement in all departments considering his previous efforts. However, whilst this is nowhere near as amateurish as Jack Falls, this is some way off being as effortlessly enjoyable as White Collar Hooligan. This is largely down to wildly uneven performances from the cast. The usually dependable Peter Barrett (UFO) is the worst culprit on this occassion with his ‘fi-fo-fo-fum’ delivery as Pat Tate. Over shouty and one note, we only get to see the violent end of this man, there is no shade brought to the character. Simon Phillips (CUT) is unusually muted and sullen as Craig Rolfe, and he barely gets a look in compared to previous renditions in Rise (by Roland Manookian) and Bonded (by Neil Maskell) which brings us to Jay Brown’s (YOUNGERS) Tony Tucker. I’m not sure who Jay Brown is but I’m afraid I thought he was terrible, his renditions of Tony Tucker coming across like a beleaguered Dwayne Dibley from Red Dwarf in a Die Hard vest. His interaction with the other actors were strange, it was like he was trying to remember his lines as he spoke them very clearly but slowly (like he was reading from giant cue cards just out of shot). The scene where he meets Pat Tate at Racquels is particularly stinky. Of all the Paul Tanter‘s rep company players though, Jay Brown is the worst discovery thus yet. Maybe he’s good in other stuff, time will tell. And another thing, why does it seem that none of the filmmakers can agree on what the Essex Boys looked like? These films are beginning to feel like an excuse to have a silly wig party.
Elsewhere, Nick Nevern (TERRY) delivers a very intense and dumb narration with the dopey urgency of a school boy describing a fight in the playground. He sounds like a cockney version of Max from the beginning of Hart To Hart “Pat Tate, drug dealing king pin, quite a guy, by the way my name’s Darren.” Between, himself and Robert Cavanah (PIMP) they do salvage some credibility and flashes of subtle and good acting but these moments are very fleeting. The girls are left on the fringes for the most part; Kierston Wareing (LOVE BITE) pops up for a third go around (she was in both Bonded and Rise) and Kate Magowan (ELFIE HOPKINS) is left high and dry with nothing to do as a detective. Which brings me to the male Ewan Ross (HOOLIGAN WARS) as the lead detective. He’s another guy previously unknown to me who seems to be on a low watt life support machine, as if to balance out the scenery chewing Peter Barrett. Ross and Brown are both really blessed to have found paid acting jobs, Ewan Ross has all the charisma of an empty bottle of piss. The director would have done better to draw a frowning face on a plank of wood and thrown it over the set fence, he may have gotten livelier results. Fall Of The Essex Boys is lively though, its full of zoom shots, reverse dollys, a thunderous soundtrack that never ever shuts up and freeze frames,(it looks like an editor’s fairground), try to keep you enthralled to no avail.
Fall Of The Essex Boys works as a sexed-up A-Z idiots’ guide express to the Rettendon Land Rover murders (think MY FIRST GANGSTER MOVIE) but aside from one or two excellent cameoes, one from Eddie Webber (THE BUSINESS) as Billy Carmichael and the late Edward Woodward‘s son Peter Woodward, this is largely badly acted and scripted.
2 out of 10 – Those seeking a new theory and angle will probably seek this out. However, this is a creative step backwards for director Paul Tanter and this really must be the last movie about the Essex Boy murders. This entry is borderline one too many. Classic trailer though.
A sequel has been released also directed by Paul Tanter called Essex Boys Retribution
Read Joe “Rise of The Sausage Family” Pesci II’s bemused review. Let’s tie him up and put him a car boot, then let him out in Southend with this review tattoo’d on his back….
Here we go again. So, for those of you who have so far successfully managed to avoid the sorry series of Rettendon Range Rover Murder Mystery Movies, here’s another one. The truth of the matter: three tedious drug dealers got murdered in Rettendon in a Range Rover. Two of their tedious ‘business’ associates are currently in jail for the murders. In the closing titles of BONDED BY BLOOD we learned that they denied responsibility; in THE FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS we see where that responsibility may lie. Except we don’t, quite.
As in both BONDED BY BLOOD and ESSEX BOYS we see events through the eyes of Darren Nicholls, a young man who gets involved with the vicious scumbags / gangland legends / dull drug dealers (delete according to taste), and who ends up as the grass who sells them out / responsible citizen who enables justice to be done. This time round, the film claims, he has a dark secret. The odd thing about this Nicholls character is that he barely features in the film for a large portion of the running time; except as a voice-over. Yes, the film seems to be a fictionalised version of Nicholls’ memoirs (making his absence from the screen even odder). Voice-overs are rarely any good, yet this one is outstandingly awful. It’s as if Nick Nevern (for it is he, an actor who I think is very, very good indeed) (usually) has been told to read it out as if he’s Danny Dyer commentating on a horse race. I think it’s meant to be breathless yet intense, but it sounds like a dopey kid talking about a fight he saw in the playground.
The tale he tells is one of clubs and drugs and guns and hanging around on boats and poisoning teenagers and killing Dutchmen and taxi drivers and issuing unpleasant threats and beating up fast food staff. Pretty much all of which we’ve seen before (except for the Dutch – I think that’s new; and the poor little pizza boy as well). So it’s a kind of Essex Boys’ Greatest Hits. And that’s one of the film’s many stumbling points. It feels cut and pasted. The early sections are narrated rather than shown, and for a film supposedly concentrating on the ‘Essex Boys’, we don’t see a lot of them. Mind you, the performances of Peter Barrett and (especially) Jay Brown mean this is a good thing. Barrett takes on the role of the legendary / dumb berk Pat Tate. Whereas his predecessors Sean Bean and Tamer Hassan exuded authority (if nothing else), Barrett comes across as an oily oik. He’s usually pretty good at supporting role yobs, but he comes horribly unstuck here (unless he’s meant to be just a yob I suppose). Basically he just shouts a lot. No wonder Kierston Wareing leaves him. Yes, the great Kierston Wareing, playing the same character for the third time. This time the film-makers have decided to experiment with the role by requiring it to be played nude. Although I’m not complaining about this (even though it smacks of German experimentalism from the 1970s) it does seem a bit of a waste. I mean for goodness sake, her best line is ‘Why don’t you shut up your moaning and get in here, so I can blow you into next week’.) Where was I? Oh yes, Jay Brown as Tony Tucker. Previously Terry Stone (aged about 39) and Larry Lamb (about 53) had played Tucker as an older man with a vulgarian acquisitive streak. Brown (aged about 29) plays him as, well a little twonk, not unlike like Barrett’s Tate. The real Tucker was 38, which makes Terry Stone a kind of Goldilocks version of Tucker, and he’s significantly better
than either his predecessor or successor. Jay Brown though is just dismal. As the third member of the deathless (yet dead) trio we find (if we look hard enough) the great Simon Philips. He has about two lines of dialogue, and correspondingly little screentime. (I can’t even swear that he was in the range rover at the crucial moment). It’s almost as if (for whatever reason) he’s been airbrushed out of the film, in the way Stalin used to have Trotsky removed from pictures.
So, talking about people rewriting history, what does this film add which the others missed? In a word: police. Take a bow Ewan Ross. It seems that he’s been propping up the cast lists of a few hooligan / gangster films without me noticing, but here is a chance to shine. And shine he doesn’t. He just sort of wafts through proceedings like a balloon. Is this a performance of carefully concealed inscrutability? Or of lamentable boredom? He drags down all around him (which is quite something for a balloon), including the usually reliable Kate Magowan.
What can we make of the rest of the cast? Eddie Webber has a nice cameo as a rival drug boss. But alas the curse of Mickey Steele strikes again! Previously this role had hobbled Tom Wilkinson and sunk Vincent Regan. What would it do to Robert Cavanah? In a sense, nothing. He flits through the film with little impact, though this might be because I think it’s him who’s in Kierston Wareing’s scenes. (Honestly Kierston, we’re writing a script for you which has got BAFTA nomination written all over it.)
SPOILERS ZONE AHEAD!
I shall now discuss the end of the film, please stop reading NOW if you want to see the film and experience its exciting conclusion for yourself first-hand.
SPOILER ZONE***SPOILER ZONE***SPOILER ZONE***SPOILER ZONE***S
At its heart, THE FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS has a serious allegation to make, but it only makes half the allegation. Whereas the closing titles of BONDED BY BLOOD said that Steele and Whomes protested their innocence (even though that film depicted them as the killers), this film shows them ready and willing to commit the crime, except – doh! – someone has got there first. What are the chances? The film alleges, without alleging it, that a police officer had something to do with it, but without offering any evidence (indeed does this police officer even exist? Or is it a composite? Or a complete invention?). (It is a funny bit when Steele and Whomes get to the infamous vehicle to find their quarry already dead.)
***END OF SPOILER ZONE***END OF SPOILER ZONE***END OF SPOILER
The really weird thing about the film is that it is very agitated and disjointed. It’s as if it’s made up only of scenes which its predecessors didn’t do, so it feels like it’s made up of just the missing bits, so I suspect someone watching this one before any of the others might well wonder what is going on. It’s simple really: some bad people shoot some bad people. Or do they?
So, the big question. Is this the last word on the Rettendon deaths? Personally I don’t think they should have bothered with a first word, but as it stands, I think there’s
plenty of scope for a few more versions. Maybe something called SO WHAT F***** KILLED THE ESSEX BOYS? I shall begin drafting a treatment forthwith.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Nick Nevern: Sexy Bizness, Spring, Meet The Firm – White Collar Hooligan 3, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, The Hooligan Factory, Vendetta, White Collar Hooligan 2, GBH, Outpost 2, The Rise Of a White Collar Hooligan, Victim, The Sweeney Movie, Turnout, 7Lives, Strippers Vs. Werewolves, Terry
- Ewan Ross: Hooligan Wars, He Who Dares, White Collar Hooligan 2, Unarmed and Dangerous
- Robert Cavanah: Take Down, The London Firm, Assassin (2015), Essex Boys Retribution, Pimp, The Royal (TV), Doctors (TV), Eastenders (TV)
- Jay Brown: Taking Stock, Essex Boys Retribution, Youngers (TV), Zebra Crossing, Baseline, KickOff, Fit
- Peter Barrett: Devil’s Tower, Shame The Devil, The Hooligan Factory, The Hooligan Wars, Essex Boys Retribution, White Collar Hooligan 2, UFO (2013), GBH, The Rise and Fall Of a White Collar Hooligan , Airborne (2012), Ghosted, Jack Falls
- Kierston Wareing: The Liability, Eastenders (TV), Love Bite, Twenty8K, Bonded By Blood, Basement, The Holding, Four, Fish Tank, Rise Of The Footsoldier,
- Kate Magowan: Eastenders (TV), Plastic, Outside Bet, Screwed (2011), A Lonely Place To Die, 4-3-2-1. Stardust, Kidulthood, It’s All Gone Pete Tong
- Simon Phillips: Gehenna,Dystopia (TV), No Easy Days (TV), The Last Scout, He Who Dares 2, Meet The Firm – White Collar Hooligan 3, Shame The Devil, Dangerous Mind of a Hooligan, The Hooligan Wars, He Who Dares, Essex Boys Retribution, White Collar Hooligan 2, UFO (2013), The Rise and Fall Of a White Collar Hooligan, Strippers Vs. Werewolves, Airborne, The Reverend (2012), Offender, Bonded By Blood, Ghosted, How to Stop Being a Loser, Kill Keith, Jack Falls, The Last Seven, Jack Said, Just For The Record, Risen, Stagger, Cut, Jack Says
- Charlie Bond: Art Ache, The Curse of the Witching Tree, Vendetta, GBH, Strippers Vs. Werewolves
- Peter Woodward: The Last Scout, Awaiting, Shame The Devil, Postman Pat Movie (voice), Dangerous Mind of a Hooligan
- Eddie Webber: Gunned Down, Hooligans At War (narrator), Assassin (2015), Devil’s Tower, Svengali, Big Fat Gypsy Gangster, The Firm (2009), Shifty, Cass, Freebird, The Business
- Tony Denham: We Still Steal The Old Way, Gunned Down, Bonded By Blood 2, Age of Kill, The Guvnors, We Still Kill The Old Way, The Hooligan Factory, Essex Boys Retribution, Vendetta, White Collar Hooligan 2, St. George’s Day, Turnout, The Shouting Men, Revolver, The Football Factory