4 out of 10
Release Date: 20th October 2014 (DVD Premiere)
Director: Ben Pickering
Cast: Matt Di Angelo, Stephen Marcus, Alan Ford, Lili Bordan, Darren Ripley, Velibor Topic, Jeff Leach, Anna Passey, Christian Brassington, George Weightman with Frazer Hines and Ricky Groves
Writer: Darren Ripley
Trailer: THE SMOKE
TO BE PROOFREAD: Inexplicably, The Smoke has been kicking around the top 30 best selling UK DVDs for months now. Just who is buying it? Well I’m afraid we were early to purchase it on release nearly three months ago but as I write in late December 2014 – it’s still a fixture at the local supermarkets and shops. There are worse London gangster capers around but The Smoke is still pretty lightweight and unoriginal.
Featuring various aluminus from Eastenders and Dr Who this comedy thriller has more twists than a Curly Wurly but inspite of this its still lame. The tone is wildly uneven as we witness comedy hitmen, cold executions and insincere attempts at rom-com. There are no terrible performances from a game cast but its all so frivolous and forgettable it’s a tough one to recommend. This is a shame because there’s so much to talk about when a film is brilliant or absolutely dire – aside from a funny cameo from Ricky Groves (EASTENDERS) it doesn’t really stick around long enough to be offensive or memorable. Veering for slapstick to cold-heartedly brutality from scene to scene indicates that this is a badly made film that’s received a last minute rescue attempt in the edit. Conversations about Star Wars come across as hollow and out-of-date homages to Quentin Tarantino. Alan Ford (STRIPPERS VS. WEREWOLVES) is also wheeled and wound up like a cockney gangster equivalent of a clockwork mouse. The poor man must get tired of young directors asking him to play Brick Top from Snatch (one last time). It’s a pleasure to watch him play to his strengths but he’s painted what careers path he’s got into a corner. Even Scandinavian filmmakers have got in the act by casting him as a London crim in the recent The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. Hitherto unknown (to me) Matt Di Angelo (EASTENDERS) is an ex-Eastenders hunk who makes a pretty fair attempt at leading man and he would well transcend his soap opera origins – he’s watchable and perhaps the reason why this DVD is still selling well. Elsewhere, reliable character actor Stephen Marcus (INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN) has an unenviable job of playing joint walking cliche with the writer of the piece Darren Ripley (THE STRANGER) – as one half of a duo of dopey hitmen on Matt Di Angelo‘s trail.
Shit, the plot is so unmemorable I forgot to give it an overview. Matt plays a recently sacked banker, who’s girl dumps him on the same day. Over hearing the details of a money for drugs swap at Heston Services on the M4 he coincidentally spots the car (by it’s reg when he looks out of a cafe window). Terrible plot coincidence. So he steals the car but also rescues a call girl (LILI BORDAN) who works for the drug barons – hence the dopey hitman and Alan Ford‘s presence. And so on…. I think.
In short, there’s plot holes, far-fetched coincidences to get around and the promise of a get away to Paris on the DVD cover and throughout the script that may happen (I can’t remember). It’s lazy, but light. Well performed but unworthy. In fact the whole film is a little like smoke itself. Light and annoying.
4 out of 10 – Below average thriller-action-rom-com that attempts to please everybody but fails on most counts. It’s so light it won’t put you out though. A playful cast just about rescue this from being utterly terrible.
REVIEW by Joe Pesci II below
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Matt Di Angelo: Eastenders (TV), Borgia (TV), Hustle (TV)
- Stephen Marcus: Eliminators, Gridiron UK, The London Firm, It’s a Lot, Fast and The Furious 6, Interview With A Hitman, Ninja Assassin, The Baby Juice Express, Kinky Boots, Stage Beauty, Quills, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Hear My Song, My Beautiful Laundrette
- Alan Ford: Gloves Off, A Hitman In London, Lilyhammer (TV), The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Cockneys Vs. Zombies, The Sweeney Movie, Airborne (2012), Strippers Vs. Werewolves, Jack Falls, Dead Man Running, Snatch, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Exorcist: The Beginning, The Long Good Friday
- Darren Ripley: The Stranger (2015)
- Velibor Topic: Never Let Go, Our Kind of Traitor, Convenience, Outpost 3
- Anna Passey: Hollyoaks (TV)
- Christian Brassington: Hummingbird, Burke and Hare, St. Trinians 2
- George Weightman: We Still Kill The Old Way
- Frazer Hines: Dr Who (TV)
- Ricky Groves: Eastenders (TV)