3 out of 10

Release Date: 31st August 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Zackary Adler (Rise of the Footsoldier 3 / Fall of the Krays)

Cast: Simon Cotton, Kevin Leslie, Danny Midwinter, Phil Dunster, Dan Parr, Alexa Morden, Nicola Taggart, James Weber Brown, Georg Nikoloff, John Burke,  Nicola Stapleton with Anita Dobson and Vass Anderson

Writer: Ken Brown, Sebastian Brown


51VyxrpEd+L._SY300_I’m not all that sure lead actor Simon Cotton‘s even heard of Ronnie Kray (whom he plays here), I do know he’s heard of Animal out of the Muppet Show though. Such is his ripe, ham and pickle performance, we get a movie which contains perhaps the most bonkers lead performance by an unknown I’ve ever seen. Only an established hack / master like Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson can get away with taking such performance liberties – yet Simon Cotton has seen this role as his one opportunity to ‘go for it’.  If he hadn’t have been essaying Ronnie Kray he could even be accused of being good. But he hits the levels all wrong, he’s over the top when he should be low key and he’s only got one gear – top gear.  Channelling more energy than a fucked up washing machine on full spin cycle Rise of The Krays is certainly a lively watch (whenever Cotton’s in it). Wrong performance, wrong film.

Telling the tale of the well-publicised 1960s London gangsters, the Kray Twins, Rise of The Krays attempts to knock Peter Medak‘s 1990s version off its perch by making a lot of noise. Where Medak’s film felt like a cool museum (wax works performances enclosed) it still had an air of chic and class. This new film, whilst it attempts to have moments of poise, is a loud, quickie put together to cater for fans of dog poo like Fall of the Essex Boys.  Where Rise of The Krays works is with is in its succession of montages. A well edited succession of sequences do well to join up the episodes – some well known – some fictional. And the odd flashback and fantasy scene also plays well and do good to build up the mood of dread. In more than one case it’s the backgorund ingredients of cinematography, music score and lighting hat do the lifting for the cast and script. It’s sad that a lot of it all falls down in the more conventional stretches.

Kevin Leslie (who plays Reggie) is an engima and a quiet force of calm compared to this film’s version of Ronnie.  Like the rest of the cast, he’s chosen to do a good job and let Simon Cotton take home all the notices (good and bad). Only Danny Midwinter (INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN) brings any gravitas to the table as famous detective and Kray hunter, Nipper Reed.  The twins’ mother (NICOLA STAPLETON – THE BILL) is only seen in flashback, so there’s a void where you’d expect a strong woman role to be (see Billie Whitelaw in the 90s version). Elsewhere, Ronnie’s homosexuality is completely ignored, as is Reggie’s relationship with Frances Shea (NICOLA TAGGART) (2 or 3 short scenes). At nearly 2 hours in length the makers have acknowledged that there’s a lot to get through, so they’ve chopped the twins’ story into two parts – FALL OF THE KRAYS is due out at Christmas.

Some cheesiness and WTF moments apart, this would have been a half decent gangster movie if it hadn’t have been based on fact. As a biopic it’s a bad joke, as on the most part detail seems scant and rushed. Small things like double glazing and modern light switches distract from the period trappings – some effort has been made. The acting is OK and there are no rotten performances here – it takes balls to do the job Cotton’s done as Ronnie even if he’s way off the mark and that’s a shame.

Look out for a wordless cameo from Anita Dobson (EASTENDERS) as a landlady called Madge. The scene hints at a very dark humour at play which fails to raise its head elsewhere. Mind you, like the rest of the cast, once she sees Legend she’ll be gutted she didn’t get a bit part in that version of the Krays story instead.

3 out of 10 – On the evidence of the first half, all of the ‘good’ stuff is still to come in part 2. Whether it’s still better than the big budget Legend is up for grabs too.  Better than expected for a cash-in but still below average for being just that, a cash-in.  What we have here is the 6th form Grange Hill-style end of term revue-style version – with a role for the headmaster too.

PS: Britpic Dick has now seen Legend. Wow, what a contrast. This is the WRONG Kray film to watch. An obvious statement but Legend is really, really fucking good.



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