Gangster Number One

Gangster No 1 ReviewBack in 2005 the movie Layer Cake made a sleek, modern addition the British gangster crime/comedy thriller genre. Despite some time required on urban dictionary it quickly became on of my favourite films of all time. The soundtrack was bang on, the story intricate à la Lock, Stock and the cinematics slick and cool like Inception. Back to front a solid flick. But until RocknRolla came out, anyone looking for more intricate plots and violence with comedic overtones was forced to work backwards in time. Guy Ritchie is perhaps the best known writer and director who brought the aforementioned Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – a must see, as well as Snatch. Layer Cake was directed by Mathew Vaughn who produced the two films with Ritchie. But anyone looking along these lines will find Paul McGuigan’s Gangster No. 1, a film released five years earlier and featuring many familiar faces. Malcolm McDowell and Paul Bettany take turns fleshing out a MacBeth-like usurper to the upper echelons of the underworld in London. His yappy Brit take, and in particular the opening of the film, is absolutely brilliant. Paul Bettany on the other hand is less funny and more of a psychopath, taking the other main ingredient in these thrillers, violence, to a whole new level. Unfortunately that aspect doesn’t add much to the experience, but it is a good, entertaining story none the less. The familiar faces are Jamie Foreman who played “The Duke” in Layer Cake and Lennie Taylor in this film. Kenneth Cranham who plays a more subservient role in Gangster, gets a promotion and acts as in a more important role as crime boss Jimmy Price in Layer Cake. In both films the main character remains unnamed, an interesting characteristic you might not even pick up on, unless the fourth wall is broken, even slightly, but Gangster is a deviation in that the boss ends up (spoiler!) killing himself at the end, rather than sharing the fate of most film, television (and often real life) gangsters in getting killed or ending up in prison.

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