John Mackenzie directs Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren and Paul Freeman in this British gangster film that predicted Thatcherism’s fallout, the revival of the Docklands, the Stratford location of the Olympics and the end of the cockney gangster as the face of London crime.
There’s lots to savour in this glorified TV movie. The prescience of the politics. The lost locations of the Old Smoke. Mirren and Hoskin’s Shakespearean marriage. The burst of iconic imagery (that meat packing warehouse entrance). Debuting Pierce Brosnan’s sexy mick hitman. Francis Monkman’s wailing electronic score. A few brilliant snatches of dialogue that’d do Get Carter proud. Hoskin’s face as he realises he is out of options. But… it still essentially is a TV movie… talky, given to weird subplots involving Gillian Taylforth and a dog, or sitcom actors unconvincingly coming the hardman. Watching Arrow’s restoration cleans up a lot of scratchy, murky cheapness I associated with it for years, letting the brilliant location work pop. Still this exists now better as a time capsule than a thriller.