3 out of 10
Release Date: 12th January 2009 (DVD Premiere)
Director: Adrian Vitoria (The Age Of Heroes)
Cast: Scot Williams, Kenny Doughty, Rory McCann, Cordelia Bugeja, Phillip Olivier, Goran Kostic, Mem Ferda, Rosie Fellner, Raza Jaffrey, Neil Bell, John Gillon, Francis Magee and Stephen Graham
Writer: Ian Brady / Kevin Sampson
Trailer: THE CREW
Review by Matt Usher
This may be the most boring film I’ve ever seen. Never before has the simple Scouse scallywag been taken so seriously, idolised so tediously, placed so highly (and foolishly) on a pedestal. This monumentally dull film drags on for two hours (and then has the gall to bung a load of deleted scenes onto the DVD as a ‘bonus’).
THE CREW are a bunch of Scouse gits, as Alf Garnett would have said, who, rather than work for a living, steal other people’s stuff, sell it then do dodgy property deals and have turf wars with foreigners. The film seems complicit with all this, after all it’s only foreigners and Sony who get ripped off and they can afford it after all, and the driver doesn’t get hurt because he’s in on it so that’s OK too (did no-one wonder why the driver kept getting held up by armed robbers? Did no-one find that suspicious? True, the police are conspicuously absent, but did none of these criminal masterminds wonder whether hijacking the same driver each time might look dodgy?). One of the many problems with the film is that it’s like a serious version of those not particularly funny Brookside send-ups Harry Enfield used to do (and a bit like Brookside itself when it went down those silly gangster-led blind alleys with Barry Grant and Sizzler).
The plot: a Big Gangster tells some Junior Gangsters to deal with a Fat Gangster, so they kill him, which wasn’t what the Big Gangster meant at all. Unfortunately for the Junior Gangsters they were seen by Drug-Addicted Foreigners so, even more unfortunately for the Foreigners, they (the Junior Gangsters) go round and kill them (the Drug-Addicted Foreigners). Meanwhile the Leader of the Junior Gangsters is a Junior Member of the main Gang of Gangsters who make up the eponymous CREW. They’ve just robbed a van which turned out to be a decoy (not only is this a professional disappointment but it also means that Hero Gangster’s libido fails him so his wife becomes a Drug-Addicted Bisexual With Poor Business Acumen). The CREW decide to have another go (at stealing stuff) in a few weeks. But the Chief Junior Gangster sells them out to a Foreign Gangster (not the dead Drug-Addicted Foreigners but a completely different club-owning Foreign Gangster), who gets killed by Hero Gangster who has done a double cross against the Big Gangster who has made him (Hero Gangster) kill one of the Junior Gangsters whilst Big Gangster kills the Leader of the Junior Gangsters (who is also Hero Gangster’s Little Brother), as well as killing Tinhead from Brookside. Meanwhile THE CREW successfully steal some Playstations and are very pleased about that. Meanwhile Hero Gangster and his Drug-Addicted Bisexual Wife With Poor Business Acumen get conned out of some money by a not-at-all Dodgy Asian and a Fake Lesbian. But Big Gangster helps him out, possibly because they might be family and it’s all about respect and scratching backs, and the director fancied a trip to Spain anyway. The moral of the tale appears to be that it’s fine to go around murdering and beating people up in the interests of your family, or if you’re a middle-aged white Englishman, but a very bad thing if you’re doing it for fun, or if you’re a youngster, or a foreigner.
Scot Williams (REDIRECTED) is supposedly the star of this dreary mess, but rarely has an actor shone so dully. I had to keep reminding myself that he was the main character even though he seems to fade into the background, almost as if he doesn’t want to be noticed. Kenny Doughty (THE INCIDENT) plays his brother, a jack-the-lad who goes off the rails a bit (slaughtering drug addicts and foreigners for fun). His character’s storyline is reminiscent of those old Hayes-Code-baiting films in the thirties: he gets up to all sorts of gleeful naughtiness, but pays the price in the end (though he doesn’t really – one bullet to the head, he’d certainly earned a bit of torture but that’s what happens when you let foreigners do the killing). Doughty at least seems to be having a good time, but whenever he’s on screen you just want to smack him round the head and tell him to pack it in.
Perhaps the oddest thing about THE CREW is the amount of masturbating in it (indeed at one point Doughty and former Brookside star Philip Oliver seem to be simultaneously masturbating and murdering people). But mostly it’s the past-time of poor old Rory McCann (HOT FUZZ), cast as a comedy tough guy who keeps getting beaten up. Stephen Graham (HYENA) turns up for a few scenes towards the end of the film but it’s too little too late despite Graham doing his best staring-into-the-distance-and-evoking-the-good-old-days-when-men-were-men-and-not-foreigners-or-drug-addicts acting. Elsewhere some TV regulars pop up but no-one can do much with this quite unbelievably boring script. Even the film itself gets bored from time to time, so the film-makers just throw in random acts of violence (usually against Rory McCann when he’s not playing with himself) which have nothing to do with anything, and are there either to round out the running time or to show how brutal and boring the members of THE CREW are.
The most shocking thing though, apart from how incredibly boring it is, is how seriously it takes itself. It has a surprisingly ambitious scale: to start with we seem to be in the world of petty thieves and criminals, and cheap-looking locations. But as the film proceeds, we realise that things are getting bigger and shinier and bolder (and more boring). By the end, it’s as if THE CREW has said ‘this is Liverpool’s reply to THE GODFATHER’. There’s even a significant scene of a family celebration with sweeping camera moves and everyone going on about family. It merely underlines how THE CREW is alarmingly pretentious, too long (by about 100 minutes), bad, arrogant (with nothing to be arrogant about), and (in case you haven’t got the message) boring.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Scot Williams: Redirected, Hard Boiled Sweets, Liverpool 1 (TV), Clubbed, Backbeat
- Kenny Doughty: In The Blood (2015), The Incident, Stella (TV), City Rats, Crush (2001), Titus, Elizabeth I
- Rory McCann: Solomon Kane, Hot Fuzz
- Cordelia Bugeja: Pleasure Island, Mindflesh
- Philip Olivier: Hollyoaks (TV), Brookside (TV)
- Goran Kostic: In The Land Of Blood and Honey, Last Days On Mars, Taken, Hannibal Rising
- Mem Ferda: Gunned Down, Pusher (2012), Ill Manors, The Devil’s Double
- Raza Jaffrey: Sex & The City 2, Spooks (TV)
- Neil Bell: Powder (2011), Dead Man’s Shoes
- Francis Magee: Blood Cells, Good People, Jimmy’s Hall, Cemetery Junction, London River, The Sex Lives Of The Potato Men, , Layer Cake
- Rosie Fellner: The Age Of Heroes
- Stephen Graham: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, This Is England ’90 (TV), Boardwalk Empire (TV), Hyena, Get Santa, Blood (2013), Best Laid Plans (2012), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Texas Killing Fields, The Season Of The Witch, London Boulevard, Public Enemies, This Is England 88 (TV), This Is England 86 (TV), Doghouse, Awaydays, The Damned Utd, Inkheart, This Is England, Goal, Snatch, Coronation Street (TV), Downtime