HACKNEY’S FINEST – GANGS OF LONDON

4.5 out of 10

Release Date: 3rd April 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Chris Bouchard

Cast: Nathanael Wiseman, Arin Alldridge, Marlon G Day, Enoch Frost, Rajan Sharma, Neerja Naik, Malcolm Tomlinson, Sean Cronin, Christopher Dingli, Jeanette Rourke, Tom Bonington, Katarina Gellin and Kulvinder Ghir

Writer: Thorin Seex

Trailer: HACKNEY’S FINEST

posterI fell asleep about four times watching this film. I gave up watching it twice and only reached the ending on the third attempt.  If only I’d been able to sleep my way through a worse film. As it is Hackney’s Finest is nowhere near the worst film in the genre. In fact, it’s only down to the fact that it’s turned up 15 years too late that it hasn’t got a higher mark from the Britpic Cabal…. No it’s just it takes no risks with it’s quirky plot full of unusual gangsters, bent coppers and story twists… I know that’s a contradiction, but what else were you expecting from a young fella who probably grew up watching Snatch on a loop.

Hackney’s Finest is a film that celebrates drug taking, drug dealing and violence. The cops are the baddies here and the dealers are the goodies…. It really is one big inverted game of cops and robbers with Welsh Jamaicans, Christian Policemen, Female Indian Speed Bike Racers and a van full of romantically inclined killer Russians. So far so Lock, Stock right? Well, sadly the writer doesn’t have the wit – there’s a few lines that crackle but nothing sticks in the memory. The plot goes around in circles whilst it’s solid cast stack double-crossing upon double-crossing. It’s competently made but it’s tedious and too slick for it’s own good. No one likes a smart-arse and that’s what this film is. It felt like I was watching a juggler who could handle ten balls whilst scratching his arse with his left hand, all the while grinning at me saying “you like that yeah, yeah? Well watch this.”

See Joe Pesci II‘s summing up of the plot in his funny review below because I didn’t bother following it. The lead Nathaneal Wiseman (MY HERO) was too annoying and obnoxious a foil to impress or draw me into the story. Any peril was laughed off and the villain Arin Allridge (THE BILL) reminded me of an old boss, and that wound me up further. Then I fell asleep. I must have watched Kulvinder Ghir’s (GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME) one minute cameo 11 times trying to keep up…

Alas it wasn’t worth the perserverance. I may watch it again one day just to see if I’m wrong as m’learned friend below says there’s much to admire… Why was it called Hackney’s Finest as well? I don’t even think it was made in London!

4.5 out of 10 – OK-ish gangster flick in the Guy Richie mode… So risk averse that I can’t think of anything particlularly horrible or nice to say about it which is fairly damning, I suppose.

Review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher below.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “HACKNEY’S FINEST – GANGS OF LONDON

  1. HACKNEY’S FINEST: GANGS OF LONDON – review by Halifax’s FInest – Matt Usher.

    I have spent time in Hackney. I have seen the mean streets, signed on at the job centre, and I even once made the mistake of using the public convenience. Even so, I wouldn’t claim to know the area particularly well, but I’d say I know it better than anyone involved in this film. HACKNEY’S FINEST (the subtitle doesn’t appear on the film itself) has about as much to do with Hackney as STAR WARS has to do with Wolverhampton. Most of the film is set in Tilbury Docks, 40km from the eponymous borough. But maybe it’s not about the location, it’s to do with the characters. The best of whom are from Wales. And Russia. And Afghanistan. And I assume the ‘finest’ bit of the title is meant to be ironic, because there’s no-one on view who isn’t an idiot of some sort.

    Our hero (Sirus, played Nathanael Wiseman as a reasonably likeable wheedling twit) is supposed to be some sort of adrenalin junkie though he comes across as the sort of person who wastes more time and energy moaning about putting the rubbish out than actually doing it. By day he works for a motorbike courier firm (scene-stealingly run by Jeanette Rourke as a politically incorrect boss). When Sirus can’t be bothered with his real job he dabbles in drug dealing. I suspect he may be something of an unreliable narrator (and he is one of those narrators whose voice-over turns up frequently to explain things that they can’t put on screen for whatever reason) (like they forgot to film them), one who paints himself as a jack the lad with a penchant for moderately larky dodginess. Alas the police see it differently and start the film by torturing Asif, Sirus’s partner in crime. The way they go at him you’d think he was some sort of mass murdering migrant terrorist paedophile, but maybe that’s the point. The film is at great pains to make it clear that he’s one of the good guys, involved in smuggling heroin because he has no other choice. He also has a sister who’s meant to be the hot-biker-chick-with-a-violent-streak bit of the film, but she ends up being little more than a damsel in distress. But it’s unquestionably the police who are the bad guys here, committing murders and beating up suspects and being more interested in making money out of the drugs trade than stopping it. To this end the police intend raiding our hero’s house for reasons I can’t remember.

    But Sirus is prepared as his two Jamaican pals from Wales are visiting and they just happen to have a vast private arsenal in the back of their car (according to the film’s website, one of the Jamaicans is ‘possibly one of the most dangerous arms dealers of the Welsh valleys’! How many arms dealers are in the Welsh valleys? Mind you my next film to review is RESISTANCE a war film set in the Welsh valleys so I’ll soon find out I suppose). Meanwhile, the evil cowardly police send in some illegal Russian mercenaries with big guns and bad manners, and before you know it our hero’s gang is on the move, and so are the Russians and the police and they all wind up in the inevitable Big Warehouse Designed for Skulduggery. Hostages are taken, bullets fly, bald thugs bite the dust, heroes turn the tables, torture is dished out, vengeance happens. The usual.

    What sets HACKNEY’S FINEST apart is its humour, at least some of which is intentional. Most of it’s not very good (the Russians – what were they thinking?) and

    frankly it detracts from any seriousness the film attempts to pretend to (I think the film’s trying to be a black comedy). But there are some good jokes, almost all of them from Enoch Frost and Marlon G Day as the Welsh Yardies (they seem to be operating on a different level from anyone else in the film, in fact they seem to be auditioning for a spin-off film of their own) (the DVD even offers options of English or Yardie subtitles)). So they help to pass the time entertainingly. Nathanael Wiseman as our hero is wrong for the role of adrenalin-fuelled drug-dealing man of action, but he makes a likeable wimp. Alas Arin Alldridge (who also produced) as the villainous policeman is about as threatening as jelly, and his deputy is meant to be some sort of cardboard cut-out Christian zealot but the actor’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it. Most of the rest of the cast veer between cartoon excess (the comedy Russians and Kulvinder Ghir’s comedy cameo) and straightforward The Bill acting. As such it’s a cut above many of its ilk.

    It’s all done with a kind of cartoonish puppyish enthusiasm which, although not infectious, isn’t repellent. Mind you I think the film probably wanted to be repellent, awash as it is with unlovable people doing beastly things to other unlovable people. But the film-makers can’t quite manage the balance properly so its various elements cancel themselves out – the characters are too broad to root for, the situations too improbable to believe in and it just becomes a matter of several bunches of people running about trying to blow each other up for fun.

    The plot is mundane, and the film doesn’t ever really explain why everyone is going to all the trouble they go to (despite or hero’s endless narrations – he’s worse than Gurnemanz in Parsifal). For its type (i.e. violent drugs gangster black comedy thriller) it’s pretty good (which is a bit of an achievement as most of its brethren are tedious abominations), but to make an impression it needed to be a lot better than pretty good. It enjoys trying to be off-kilter with its line-up of characters and occasional spurts of over-the-top violence but the film-makers don’t seem to realise that Guy Ritchie was doing the same stuff better last century – maybe they’re too young to remember.

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