The improbable success of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels both critically and commercially (it's still a success and appeal which escapes me) meant that a lot of what followed from the British film industry was nothing but second-rate mockney gangster movies. It's something I've discussed previously with my review for Circus a prime copycat that came hot on the heels of Ritchie's breakthrough movie.
But it would be unfair to lump all the gangland films that followed together as, on some occasions, they did try to do something different.
Going Off Big Time is just one of those movies that boasts a modicum of distinction and originality and has over the years become something of a cult favourite round these neck of the woods. That's because it's set in Liverpool and not, like all the other copycats, London, and is steeped in authentic Scouse criminality - indeed, writer and star Neil Fitzmaurice gathered together a wealth of real anecdotes he had heard around the pubs of the city to form the backbone of his script.
Another bonus to Fitzmaurice's writing is that he swerves the Ritchie formula and depicts a crime film that owes more of a debt to the golden era of 1930s hardboiled Hollywood crime and a Runyonesque charm. As is to be expected from a performer who has become a mainstay of TV comedy (Phoenix Nights, Peep Show and Mount Pleasant to name but a few) Fitzmaurice's writing focuses primarily on humour rather than gritty, violent drama and there's a suitably reflective, almost melancholic air from director Jim Doyle that fits the central character's memories.
Ultimately whilst the episodic format, the mix of chucklesome capers and gangland drama don't truly satisfy, Going Off Big Time is surprisingly enjoyable enough and it's not difficult to see why it has become a minor cult fave locally.