The Crew (2008)
“Let’s see who the real men are!”
Director: Adrian Vitoria
Cast: Scot Williams, Kenny Doughty, Cordelia Bugeja
Synopsis: As a major heist approaches and with betrayal all around him, a respected crime boss has to summon all his street nous and killer instinct as he fights for survival.
WARNING! This review contains SPOILERS!
For an 80s-set British gangster flick this is pretty good despite some obvious flaws.
First, let’s deal with the bad points: for all its attempts to distract the viewer, The Crew really tells the oldest, creakiest story in the crime genre — that of the career criminal planning one more job before he retires. Scot Williams is Ged Brennan, the villain who’s starting to yearn for a quiet life with his foxy wife and young son away from all the violence. For the most part Williams is OK, but he struggles at times when asked to portray such peaks of emotion as anger or distress. The film is relentless in its bleak outlook, bereft of any touches of humour despite taking place in Liverpool, a city supposedly renowned for its citizen’s sense of humour. This dark tone makes it difficult to like any of the characters, none of whom have any redeeming features. While this perhaps accurately reflects the excesses of a generation hell-bent on self-gratification it makes for a difficult viewing experience at times, and some prudent trimming of some scenes would have brought the near two hour running time down to a more appropriate length.
The good points are that the film is densely plotted and hardly ever predictable, a fact that goes some way to counteracting the overlong running time. The cast all perform well, especially the ever-dependable Stephen Graham as Franner, the laid-back gang boss with a vicious streak. In the main they all look the part, although Graham looks more like a professional footballer than a violent criminal, and his position within the film as nominal good guy by virtue of the fact that he refuses to become involved in drugs comes across as naive. For every designer suit and flash motor on show there is a bleak landscape of back-street pubs, sleazy strip joints and disused warehouses, signifying that Brennan is as trapped by his background as he is by his desire for the trappings of wealth. The film ends on a deceptively depressing note: first a successful heist that mirrors the failed robbery at the beginning of the film, suggesting that Brennan is fated to continue with the life he is trying to escape, and secondly the open-ended revenge sub-plot which also suggests he is unable to overcome the old desires that fuelled his rise in the crime world.
This is definitely one worth seeing.