One of the interesting things about getting older (which has kind of taken me by surprise a bit) is my changing taste in movies. This film is one case in point. There was a time when I thought this film was one of the most entertaining films ever. Now I’m not so sure.
This film tells the story of four young guys in the tough end of London who decide to chip in 25,000 pounds each to play in a high-stakes poker game (minimum needed to play: 100,000 pounds), run by notorious gangster, “Hatchet” Harry. (That said, three out of four of these guys are young thieves as well, so there are no real good guys in this particular story. One of the guys, Freddie, is something of a card-playing genius, so they figure they’re in with a pretty good chance.
But the game is rigged, and not only does Freddie lose all 100,000 pounds, but he walks out owing 500,000 pounds . . .
So this is when his mates come up with the idea of robbing their next door neighbours (also a bunch of crims), who they hear planning to rob a third bunch of guys who make a fortune selling marijuana.
Somewhere in the middle of this, Hatchet Harry also sends off a couple of thieves to track down a couple of antique guns that he’s after.
And there are more subplots as well, which only makes things more convoluted.
The cleverness of this story works in the way all these subplots interweave in and out of each other throughout the course of the movie, culminating in increasingly out-of-control situations as the story goes on. Combine that with very clever camera-work, frenetic editing (withs lots of slow-downs and speed-ups), and a pounding soundtrack, and the 1 hour 40 minutes is gone before you know it.
However, looking at this film after a gap of some years, it’s a strangely empty film. I now understand completely why Guy Ritchie has never made it good after this film and Snatch: he’s got nothing except the ability to write a convoluted plot, a fancy film style, and crackling (albeit profane) Cockney gangster dialogue.
But there’s no heart to this story. You’re dealing with one bunch of crooks cheating another bunch of crooks. It’s only as amusing as the plot. And, frankly, British gangsters seem to be wearing very thin to me after all these years. I don’t mind a good intense crime thriller every now again (last year’s The Departed was quite memorable) but this just seemed to fall flat.
2 1/2 out of 5