(director: Philip Barantini; screenwriters: George Russo, Greg Hall; cinematographer: Matthew Lewis; editor: Alex Fountain; music: David Ridley, Aaron May; cast: Craig Fairbrass (Eddie Franks), Robert Glenister (Roy Garrett),  Eloise Lovell Anderson (Rikki ), Tomi May (Johnny Garrett), George Russo (Sean Franks), Izuka Hoyle (Chloe Franks), Mark Monero (Michael Till),  Taz Skylar (Jason), Nicholas Aaron (Steve), Michael John Treanor (Freddie Bagshot), Marcus Onilude (Mark Watts), Jennifer Matter (Carla Till); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Bart Ruspoli; Saban; 2020-UK)

It has an intensity and energy that’s explosive.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Brit actor-turned director Philip Barantini hands in for his first feature directorial effort a well-made but familiar gangster story. Writers George Russo & Greg Hall fill the story with an above the quota amount of violence yet leave room for some tender scenes and intelligent moments. It has an intensity and energy that’s explosive, as it never becomes boring.

The hulking Eddie Frank (Craig Fairbrass) is released from prison after serving a long sentence (10 years). He’s determined to go straight and to reunite with his estranged daughter Chloe (Izuka Hoyle) and get acquainted with his little grandson he never met. But going straight is not in the cards. Back home in London’s East End, he finds the pub he owns with his close-knit but useless brother Sean (George Russo, co-writer), a cocaine user and drug dealer, is being targeted by local bad egg gangsters Roy Garrett (Robert Glenister) and Johnny (Tomi May) over a drug debt owed. They threaten to kill Sean if not paid.

Eddie moves in with Sean, into the dumpy flat above the bar.

He tries making a deal with the thugs, and tries raising the money from an old gangster pal (Mark Monero).

Eddie is far from a good guy, and has done some nasty things in the past. This reality is pointed out when Eddie gives some gents who fell behind on their bar tab a vicious beating.

There’s little plot, as the old-school crime drama relies on its main characters to get across its points.

Fairbrass shows he can be vulnerable and wanting, but at the same time could be menacing as the aging hood finds himself an outsider in a racially diverse London he barely recognizes.

I’ve always had a craving for gangster films, and if well-conceived and well-acted like this indie I usually find them enjoyable.

Craig Fairbrass in British gangster
      film VILLAIN 2020