Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Crew (2008)

The Crew is a 2008 Liverpool set gangster flick starring Scott Williams, Stephen Graham, Kenny Doughty and Rory McCann. Like Harrigan which I watched this week, this crime thriller has some good things about it, but also an awful lot of average about it too.

The film is an adaptation of Kevin Sampson's novel Outlaws. Sampson is a great author with a truly authentic voice whose work sadly hasn't transferred all that well to the big screen (the adaptation of his Tranmere Rovers football hooligan novel Awaydays, a cracking book, was a real disappointment for example) but it's fair to say that whilst this is far from perfect it is still a reasonably good attempt, and one which also deserves some credit for striking out from the usual glut of British gangster movies that have come in the wake of Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock. As I discussed last week in my review for the similarly Liverpool set Going Off Big Time, the Scouse setting immediately separates it from the stereotypical norm, and also in its favour is the fact that it steers clear of the cheeky lairy antics that the mockney clones since Ritchie's breakthrough have routinely and depressingly delivered. That's not to say that The Crew doesn't deal in action, and when it does, it does so with drama and with a fair bit of blood.

In focusing less on antics and more on the lifestyle of a professional criminal, the heart of the film is Ged played by Scott Williams, the head of a successful old school criminal gang who has ambitions to go legit, schmoozing with a middle class and classy couple whom his wife Deb (Cordelia Bugeja) has become friendly with, to place his nest egg into their property redevelopment scheme. Cue the cliche of  'One Last Job', which will be a heist on a truck containing a load of PlayStations. But of course things get complicated; Eastern Europeans start to muscle in on the action and Ged's kid brother Ratter (Kenny Doughty) begins to get dangerous ambitions of his own, and are the couple with their tantalising land deal quite what they seem?

The beauty of a good book means that a multi-stranded plot has the time to breathe and develop, whereas a good film tends to excel and thrive on tight pacing and less clutter. Writer and director Adrian Vitoria and co-writer Ian Brady are clearly trying to do justice to the book and as a result they become hampered and fail to produce the clear vision and simple enjoyment the film demands.

There's also an issue with casting and characterisation.  Whilst solid in the lead role, Scot Williams isn't especially sympathetic or charismatic which makes caring about his situation difficult. The real stars of the film are Stephen Graham as the head of a rival firm and Rory McCann as Ged's loyal but kinky sex crazed lieutenant who provides both the muscle and the film's rare laughs as witnessed in this scene;

Once watched, never forgotten!

Dramatically better than both Going Off Big Time andThe 51st State (its two Liverpool gangland contemporaries) The Crew is entertaining enough but its flaws means it is on no way a classic.

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