Dead Man Running
dir-scr Alex De Rakoff
prd Nicky Pikki Fearon
with Tamer Hassan, Danny Dyer, Brenda Blethyn, Curtis Jackson, Monet Mazur, Ashley Walters, Phil Davis, Bronson Webb, Blake Ritson, Joe Egan, Robert Stone, Scot Williams
release UK 30.Oct.09
09/UK 1h31
Dead Man Running
Making some cash on the side: Hassan, Mazur and Dyer

blethyn jackson walters
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Dead Man Running Yet another retread of the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, this London crime caper at least creates its setting well and has some colourful characters. But we've seen it all before.

Nick (Hassan) is an ex-criminal trying go straight so he can care for his wheelchair-bound mum (Blethyn). But New York gangster Thigo (Jackson), in the grip of the economic crisis, is calling in his loans. Now Nick has 24 hours to come up with £100,000, or Thigo's goon (Davis) will kill both Nick and his mother. Nick's pal Bing (Dyer) offers to help, and they embark on an odyssey of underground fight clubs, fixed track-betting and drug deals in increasing desperation to round up the cash.

This is one of those scripts in which nothing goes as planned, so none of the "twists" are very surprising. As Nick and Bing resort to ever-more outrageous ways of making money, including working with Nick's dominatrix girlfriend (Mazur) to rob one of her clients, we never doubt for a moment that they'll sort it out in the end. The problem is that writer-director De Rakoff doesn't give us enough inventive style or nutty energy to help us enjoy the ride.

Hassan and Dyer are fine, making a decent double act even with their corny East End lingo and goofy logic. And Blethyn adds a blast of personality in the only fully formed performance; her scenes with Davis are the best parts of the film. Walters is also quite good (although underused) as Thigo's sidekick, so it's a pity that the stone-faced Jackson gives him so little to work with. But the real issue is that these are all stock characters with nothing to say, which leaves them feeling stiff and uninteresting.

That said, for what it is this is a decent little romp. It's efficient enough that it's never boring. And audience members who haven't seen the myriad of movies just like this might find it entertaining. Of course these would also need to be the kinds of viewers who don't question gaping plot-holes (why does Bing know the Manchester-London train timetable off the top of his head?) or the fact that when someone says, "We done it, it's over," it's not.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, drugs 12.Aug.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall