The Business (2005)
“This firm will blow you away”
Director: Nick Love
Cast: Danny Dyer, Tamer Hassan, Geoff Bell
Synopsis: Frankie escapes the rundown slums of London for a life of crime on the costa del Sol.
“My old man wrote me a letter from prison once. It said if you don’t want to end up in here, stay away from movies about crime, women and drugs. Trouble is, when it comes to the British film industry that don’t leave you much else, does it?”
Sarf London gangsters — there must be millions of them, judging from the number of recent British films that have recounted their exploits. If they’re not running around Peckham and Billericay shooting each other (and the occasional hapless Securicor employee) they’re living the high life in Spain and snorting copious amounts of Bolivian marching powder off various parts of willing young ladies’ bodies. And whether they’re in the smoke or the sun they’re always swearing like twelve-year-old schoolboys after an all-night session of Jim Davidson in Concert DVDs…
Nick Love is something of a name in the British movie industry apparently, but he seems to have passed me by, which, on the evidence of this uninspiring effort, isn’t necessarily a bad thing: The Business is so relentlessly unoriginal that you can’t help thinking it’s the work of someone who, despite having only made a handful of movies, is living off past glories. The lead character, portrayed by Danny Dyer, is bland and insipid, while everyone else is so awfully stereotypical that at times the movie looks and sounds like a comedy — something the Comic Strip might make to lampoon the type of movie this is trying to be. Not only that – the characters are all somehow as unlikeable as they are unlikely, despite also being incredibly flat and one-dimensional. You really don’t care what happens to Frankie or Charlie (Tamer Hassan), and if you don’t care then what’s the point of watching? You might as well look out of your front window and watch real people you don’t care about.
The story is set in the Costa del Crime of the Eighties, the luxurious haunt of London villains who have found the breath of the law on the back of their necks a little too hot to take. Dwyer’s young ‘innocent’ Frankie, who flees Britain after smacking his step-dad over the back of the head with a plank, falls in with the flashy and thuggish nightclub owner Charlie and his gang. Quickly seduced by the women, cars and easy money, it’s not long before Frankie is smuggling drugs with his new pals and making enemies left, right and centre as he descends into the inevitable coke-induced downfall.
At some point in pre-production, director Love must have sat down with pen and paper and scribbled down every 1980s pop-culture reference he could think of in the mistaken belief that cramming them into the film at every opportunity would automatically lend it an authentic tone. Everything is there from Frankie Says tee-shirts and deeley-boppers to Rubik’s cubes and Steve Strange-lookalikes on the dance floors. The soundtrack is flooded with 80s hits — in fact the soundtrack is probably the best thing about the film — and the villains walk around in white shoes without socks. Very 1980s, without a doubt, but hugely ineffective simply because signs should be on the side of the road — not in the middle, where they get in everybody’s way and distract from the journey. And, because Love hasn’t realised this, the 80s artefacts too often are the centre of attention rather than an incidental detail.
If you’ve never seen a British gangster film made in the last ten years, give The Business a go — you’ll probably be mildly entertained. If you’ve seen more than one British gangster film made in the last ten years, steer clear — you’ll know exactly what is going to happen at every turn and supposed twist of the plot.