4 out of 10

Release Date: 14th July 2000

Director: Terry Winsor

Cast: Sean Bean, Charlie Creed-Miles, Alex Kingston, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Rigby, Holly Davidson, Michael McKell, Gary Love with Billy Murray and Larry Lamb

Writer: Terry Winsor


Essex Boys was the first film to tackle the now legendary Rettendon Murders.  It takes a fast and loose largely fictional approach, with the makers only going as far as to say that this film is inspired by the real life events.  It also happens to be the fourth film I’ve seen in a twelve month period based on the same subject.  Sadly, the best by a very long has turned out to be the one with the silliest wigs, Rise Of The Footsoldier. But first is forever.

Essex Boys concentrates on Billy Whizz’s story (based on Darren Nicholls) played by Charlie Creed-Miles (HARRY BROWN) and his association with Sean Bean (THE AGE OF HEROES) (based on Pat Tate), Larry Lamb (BUSTER) (based on Tony Tucker) and Michael McKell (OUTPOST 3) (based on Craig Rolfe) all given fictional names that I can’t be bothered to look up.  This version of Pat Tate has just gotten out of jail to find out that his old co-horts are now swanning around in big cars and living in mansions.  In order to get square he takes over the doors of the local Southend clubs.  A bad batch of drugs leading to a high profile death supplied to them by Tom Wilkinson‘s (RUSH HOUR) Mickey Steele-a-like leads to toys being thrown out of the pram and more death.  Namely ones situated in a particular 4×4.

The main difference in Essex Boys to the other three is that Sean Bean‘s wife, played by Alex Kingston (ER), is a major player and the ambitious brains behind much of the shenanigans.  For a gangster film this was quite unique (with the exception of The Krays) but in recent films such as Animal Kingdom and Down Terrace they have demonstrated that women are largely the backbone and steel in crime families.  Alex Kingston‘s deviousness and eye on the prize does single Essex Boys out from the pack though. It’s a shame the rest of the film is such a trudge. There’s little to fault with the acting, and another great plus is some great cinematography, elevating this above your average Granada TV one off.

Maybe it’s because this is the fourth film about the same subject I’ve sat down to watch in a relatively short period that I feel so jaded and blah-blah.  As a stand alone, it’s a competent if not terribly exciting gangster movie with a committed cast. Measured up to the other three Essex Boys movies this takes the silver medal after the, now,classic Rise Of The Footsoldier. It also has the least silliest wigs.  It’s better scripted but the least factual of the four. Sadly, I came to this one too late so my view point is too skewed to look at this in the plain light of day, much like any new versions based on the same tedious subject. I really really hope that Fall Of The Essex Boys is the last one. It’s certainly the last one I’ll watch.

4 out of 10 – Reasonable but pointlessly free and loose with the facts.


  • Sean Bean: The Martian, Pixels, Jupiter Ascending, Percy Jackson 2, Silent Hill 2, Mirror Mirror, Cleanskin, Game Of Thrones (TV), The Age Of Heroes, Deathrace 2, Black Death, Percy Jackson, Far North, Outlaw, The Hitcher (2007), Silent Hill, Flight Plan, North Country, The Island, The Dark, National Treasure, Troy, Lord Of The Rings- Fellowship Of The Ring, Equilibrium, Don’t Say a Word, Ronin, Anna Karenina (1997), When Saturday Comes, James Bond- Goldeneye, Black Beauty (1994), Shopping, Sharpe (TV), Patriot Games, The Field, War Requiem, Stormy Monday, Caravaggio
  • Charlie Creed-Miles: Peaky Blinders (TV), Wild Bill (2012), Hereafter, Harry Brown, Nil By Mouth, The Fifth Element, The Young Poisoner’s Handbook, Press Gang (TV)
  • Alex Kingston: Dr Who (TV), Like Crazy, Alpha Dog, Moll Flanders (TV), ER (TV)
  • Tom Wilkinson: Bone In The Throat, Good People, Unfinished Business, Felony, Belle, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lone Ranger (2013), Mission Impossible 4, The Best Exotic Marigold HotelBurke & Hare, The Green Hornet, The Debt, The Ghost, 44 Inch Chest, Duplicity, Valkyrie, Rock-N-Rolla, Michael Clayton, Cassandra’s Dream, The Last Kiss, Seperate Lies, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, Batman Begins, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Before You Go, The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002),  In The Bedroom, Black Knight, Another Life, Essex Boys, The Patriot, Ride With The Devil,  Shakespeare In Love, Rush Hour, The Governess, Oscar & Lucinda, Wilde, The Full Monty, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, The Ghost and The Darkness, Sense and Sensibility, Martin Chuzzlewit (TV), Priest (1994),  A Business Affair, Paper Mask
  • Terence Rigby: Mona Lisa Smile, Simon Magus, Plunkett and Macleane, Elizabeth I, James Bond- Tomorrow Never Dies, Funny Bones, The Young Americans, Scandal, Get Carter (1971)
  • Holly Davidson: Casualty (TV), The Bill (TV), Final Cut, Food Of Love
  • Michael McKell: Outpost 3, Emmerdale (TV), Freight, Doctors (TV)
  • Gary Love: Stoned, Soldier Soldier (TV), The Krays, Grange Hill (TV)
  • Billy Murray:  What’s The Score?, The Disappearance of Lenka Wood, We Still Steal The Old Way, Essex Boys Retribution, One In The Chamber, Rise and Fall Of a White Collar HooliganAirborne (2012)Strippers Vs. WerewolvesStalker (2011),  Freight,  Devil’s Playground,  Dead CertJust For The Record,  DoghouseRise Of The FootsoldierRollin With The Nines,  Hell To Pay, Eastenders (TV), The Bill (TV), McVicar
  • Larry Lamb: Meet Pursuit Delange, Gavin and Stacey (TV), Eastenders (TV), Blood- The Last Vampire, The Bill (TV), Buster

One thought on “ESSEX BOYS

  1. Joe Pesci II’s review

    The Rettendon Range Rover Murders. How I rue the day they occurred. Who could have known on that snowy day in 1995 that this unremarkable event would spawn four feature films? In case you are one the millions of people who are unaware, what happened was this: some drug dealers got shot in a vehicle in a field. (So far I’ve seen two of the films, BONDED BY BLOOD – hereafter BBB, and ESSEX BOYS both utterly unremarkable.)

    Reader, I have erred. In my previous review of BBB (the third film on the subject) I referred repeatedly to the Rettendon Land Rover Murders, when it should have been the Rettendon Range Rover Murders. This is obviously a grave error on my part, and I hang my head in shame both for my lack of knowledge of big cars, and my failure to understand the importance of alliteration. Maybe I would not have made this mistake if I had watched ESSEX BOYS when it came out. This is the first film to base itself on the case, and does so in fictionalised form: names have been changed in order to protect the guilty, the innocent, and most importantly the film-makers from a libel case (probably).

    Technically, ESSEX BOYS is outside the purview of this site, dating as it does from 2000. However, it is clearly a spiritual ancestor of much of the detritus I’ve reviewed over the last six months so it warrants a few comments here.

    Sean Bean plays the psychotic one. Larry Lamb is the business-minded one. Charlie Creed-Miles is the getaway driver turned grass. There was some other bloke with long hair. Tom Wilkinson is the posh one and Terence Rigby turns up as his gamekeeper. Alex Kingston takes the role subsequently essayed three times by Kierston Wareing.

    Bean is just out of jail and anxious to resume hitting people, which he is able to do whenever he meets anyone really. He teams up with Lamb and the bloke with the hair, and this fearsome trio concentrate on taking over the ‘doors’ in Southend. (Basically they controlled access to the nightclubs and therefore the supply of drugs to the nightclubs.) But then it all goes horribly wrong when Wilkinson sells them some dodgy drugs, and he gets scared, has an affair with Kingston then kills them.

    The film is interesting only in that it makes Kingston a significantly more involved character, and Wilkinson is a posh bloke rather than whatever Vincent Regan was attempting in BBB. Bean is efficiently nasty (and less charismatic than Tamer Hassan which is probably a good thing), but Lamb has a quite embarrassingly bad rant at one point; I never thought I’d see the day when I said ‘Bring back Terry Stone!’ and yet it came to pass. Creed-Miles, whose entire career I seem to have missed, is much better than Adam Deacon; his dilemma is displayed much more convincingly and less hysterically. Kingston’s role is effectively completely different from Wareing’s. In BBB the latter was little more than a damsel in distress. In ESSEX BOYS Kingston has a much more controlling influence, and it’s interesting that this is something that the later film decided to jettison. (Possibly the real woman’s involvement (or lack of) has come to light and so BBB is the more accurate, or maybe the makers of BBB didn’t like the idea of the woman having any of the fun.) Meanwhile Wilkinson is unusually ill at ease. What is it about this role which seems to bring the worst out in actors? Vincent Regan was awful in BBB, and Wilkinson, well, he’s not the Tom Wilkinson we all know and love. I await this character’s portrayal in RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER and FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS (honestly it wasn’t me who made these titles up) with some degree of interest, though not much.

    Where BBB revelled in the nastiness and laddishness and camaraderie and blokey brutality of its protagonists, ESSEX BOYS tries to be more objective and less easily impressed. The film centres pretty squarely on Creed-Miles’ experiences as he is roped into the gang’s (particularly Bean’s) depravity. However, even at this early juncture the film struggles to find anything interesting to say about this sorry tale. One film in, and the Rettendon Range Rover Murders seems dramatically and psychologically empty. Three films in, matters have not improved. I hope that maybe films 2 and 4 are in fact under-rated masterpieces which will reveal the depth, complexity and excitement of this fascinating and relevant tale of our times (a fascination and relevance which I have so far failed to detect). Or maybe they’ll prove an adage I’m about to make up: just because it’s been filmed four times don’t mean there’s a film there.

    ESSEX BOYS: I’ve seen worse.

    3.5 out of 10

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