by Robert Lucas
There are literally hundreds of British gangster movies. They have always been popular, constantly being reinvented and renewed, reaching as far back as the 1940’s with films like Brighton Rock, through the films like The Long Good Friday in the 70’s, to modern day movies like Layer Cake. The Brit Gangster market is a crowded place, so the reel question is will Hackney’s Finest be a Snatch or just more Scum?
Watching Hackney’s Finest you quickly realize it’s not trying to change the world, this movie is a melodrama. It’s about one drug dealer, Sirus and a very bad night in his life. That’s OK, Pulp Fiction was a melodrama and so was Othello, films don’t have to be grand in scale to make a difference. Fine in practice but the problem is Hackney’s Finest doesn’t make a difference, its existence is totally trivial.
Part time drug dealer Sirus, gets involved with some corrupt policemen, a Russian gang, Welsh-Jamaican arms traffickers, and the Afghan mafia over a rumoured shipment of heroin.
The film is well put together. The narration, while a well-worn coat, helps the movie enormously. The editing is crisp and the marriage between film and sound is strong (especially some of the exterior music). It’s clear that director Chris Bouchard has tried to make the best he can of a film which is totally ordinary.
Perhaps I’m being unfair to Hackney’s Finest, it just feels like in its heart the film knows it could have done better. Saying that, I feel the cast each put in good performances, with Chris Bouchard doing most of the heavy lifting.
The thing that holds the film back ultimately is that it’s not gritty enough to be a thriller or funny enough to be a comedy, it lives in limbo between the two. Sometimes this approach works (look at Guy Richie for example), but to achieve it you need a hard edge to your film, and Hackney’s Finest doesn’t have it. All it does have is racist and coarse language. The script too often plays into obvious stereotypes and appears to think it’s big or clever to use outdated slurs.
Hackney’s Finest is an unambitious gangster movie that is neither a success nor failure it simple exists, but at points rises above its short comings.
HACKNEY’S FINEST is out now on DVD