Movie Review: We Still Kill the Old Way (2014)
We Still Kill the Old Way (2014)
Director: Sacha Bennett
Cast: Ian Ogilvy, Alison Doody, Christopher Ellison
Synopsis: A retired East End villain returns to his old haunts to avenge the murder of his brother by a gang of youths.
Like The Guvnors, which came out earlier in 2014, We Still Kill the Old Way is a British crime thriller that explores the gaping generation gap between collar-and-tie wearing old-school criminals of the 1960s and their modern-day hoodie-wearing counterparts. Naturally, while the present breed of council estate thugs might benefit from a complete lack of scruples, their feral mob mentality means they come off second best, both in terms of the outcome of the clash and the way that they’re portrayed in Sacha Bennett’s uneven revenge thriller. The old gangsters might have moral compasses that are every bit as faulty as those of the hoodies, but they have a lot more style, as Bennett shows by alternating scenes which emphasise the contrasts between young and old. So, while one old-timer is offering a lady a single rose across the dinner table, a teenage gang leader wordlessly presents his old chap to one of his female acolytes for a little executive stress relief. Hardly subtle, but it gets the point across…
TV’s former Saint, Ian Ogilvy (Witchfinder General), looking a little grizzled but still in full possession of the effortless charm of Simon Templar, is Richie Archer, a former London gangster from the Kray/Richardson era who finds himself pulled from his pampered retirement in the sun when his brother is viciously beaten to death by a gang of drug dealing teens in London. Returning to his old haunts, he finds improbably glamorous police detective Susan Taylor (Alison Doody – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) making little headway in her quest to find the killer, even though the culprits posted a video of the murder on the dark web, giving Archer a vital clue in his own search. After calling upon his old, balding, and overweight firm to pull up their support stockings and stride carefully into the fray, Archer sets about finding and interrogating the lower-ranking members of the gang (with the help of nine inch nails and power drills) in order to orchestrate a showdown with Aaron (Danny-Boy Hatchard), their near-feral gang leader who seems to be in a permanent state of ire at not having been born black.
An eye-catching title and a cast of familiar old names helps We Still Kill the Old Way stand out a little from the rash of British gangster movies that have flooded the market since the early 2000s. In addition to Ogilvy, who is unexpectedly good as the ageing gang leader, there’s Steven Berkoff (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Strippers vs Werewolves) as his ill-fated brother, while his old gang is made up of such well-known faces as Christopher Ellison (The Bill’s DI Burnside), James Cosmo (Braveheart, Trainspotting), Tony Denham (In the Name of the Father, The Guvnors), Nicky Henson (Witchfinder General, Narcopolis), and Lysette Anthony (Strippers vs Werewolves). Unfortunately, after a strong start, the whole thing grows increasingly shaky as Bennett (who also co-wrote with Dougie Brimson and GaryLawrence) struggles – and fails – to come up with a convincing showdown. It would also have been interesting to see a little more introspection on the part of Archer as he finds himself pulled back into a world of violence he must have thought he’d left far behind him, but which he slips back into with a contained enthusiasm that tempers the audience’s sympathy for him.
We Still Kill the Old Way was successful enough to warrant a sequel, but there can’t be many who will be eagerly awaiting its release, and a late reference to The Italian Job only serves to illustrate the disparity between the old breed of movie and the new.
(Reviewed 16th July 2016)