dir Luis Prieto
scr Matthew Read
prd Rupert Preston, Christopher Simon, Felix Vossen
with Richard Coyle, Bronson Webb, Agyness Deyn, Mem Ferda, Zlatko Buric, Paul Kaye, Bill Thomas, Neil Maskell, Daisy Lewis, Ray Callaghan, Badria Timimi, Adam Foster
release UK 12.Oct.12
12/UK Vertigo 1h29
It's heating up: Coyle

deyn ferda kaye
edinburgh film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Pusher Nicolas Winding Refn's 1996 breakout hit is remade into a rather trite British crime thriller by Spanish director Prieto. It looks sleek and urgent, but there's little here that hasn't been said in countless urban London dramas.

Lively young drug dealers Frank and Tony (Coyle and Webb) are trying to figure out how to bring a huge stash into London. But the police are brutally pushing Frank to reveal his supplier Milo (Buric) and turn against Tony. Caught between the cops and Milo's goon Hakan (Ferda), Frank decides to call in his debts so he and his stripper girlfriend Flo (Deyn) can get away from all of this. But none of his back-up plans works as expected, and his relationship with Flo seems to be falling apart as well.

Prieto brings an energetic style to the screen, with comical touches that turn increasingly intense as everything squeezes in on Frank. But the edginess is only superficial, and the character-based approach only disguises the fact that none of these people are actually very interesting. We believe that Frank's odyssey is increasingly freaky for him, but for us it feels like a series of contrived movie cliches. Meanwhile, Frank and Flo's relationship feels merely scripted: there's no affection or sexuality between them. And they don't really speak either, as Frank doesn't tell her about the trouble he's in.

It's difficult to sympathise with Frank ("I didn't do anything wrong!"), when he's not much more than a low-life drug dealer whose risky decisions combine with bad luck. Fortunately, Coyle invests the character with some real humanity, playing Frank as a cocky nice guy who has the bravado kicked out of him and turns into a haunted, panicky shell of himself. Coyle helps us understand that Frank's only real mistake is his loyalty to Milo; the filmmaking never bothers to look into this.

While he never sparks with Deyn, Coyle does develop terrific chemistry with Webb, creating a cool, contrasting double-act that's rife with subtext the filmmakers are clearly terrified to explore. In fact, they never give us anything to grab hold of, letting the story slip out of their control as it spirals to a bizarrely unsatisfying conclusion.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, drugs, sexuality 19.Jun.12 eiff

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