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July 31, 2007

There’s something deeply depressing about Danny Dyer. Is it his little spud-u-like face that has somehow managed to become considered cheeky and good looking? Is it his chavvy brio? Is it his Loaded mag geezer charm? Perhaps it’s those übershit programmes he cobbles together with the chancers on Bravo. Whatever, the guy seems, somehow, to have made a career in a world where creativity occasionally gets a look in. How bizarre is that? Creativity and Danny Dyer in the same sentence.


Anyway, here he is, people, in the latest Brit underworld epic, Outlaw. Boxing – he’ll like that, I’m sure – above his weight (oops), with some people who can actually act (Bob Hoskins, Lennie James), Danny plays someone who gets beaten up by a bunch of thugs and dreams of shooting them. His fiance doesn’t understand him. He suffers and confides to his mate that he’s going to get himself some Justice. Or something. Shit, I don’t know. Apparently ‘The System’ has failed him and he needs to Take The Law Into His Own Hands. Anyway, there are other people exposed to similar feelings.

Sean Bean is a demobbed Para, who gets to walk out of the back of a Hercules on his own (which indicates a criminal waste of the taxpayer’s money if that’s how we bring Our Boys back from Towel-Head Land), with the camera panning around him Nicolas Cage in Con Air style, so that we can be assured he’s The Man. He goes home, wanders through a gaggle of dissing hoodies,finds he’s locked out of his own home and peers through the window to find his missus has taken up with an Asian! I was raging, let me tell you. Anyhoo, he takes his bag of guns (which, it seems, you’re allowed to toddle off home with when you leave the army), and goes and checks into a hotel where the security chief (Sean Harris) is a Fucking Nazi. Or Daily Mail reader, as I prefer to call them. Anyway, we know he’s a bad lot because he’s thin and wirey and he’s got a spent conviction and he’s not served his country and he says ‘blacks’ a lot.

I’ll come back to this point in a minute.

Last up is the Lennie James character, a barrister prosecuting a pantomime mafioso called Manning. Manning is a throroughly bad lot and, we find, hires paedophiles as his henchmen. Of course. I mean, we wouldn’t want this to be black and white, would we? Lennie gets threatened, told to back off. He fails to do this, and his lovely pregnant wife is charmingly stabbed in the stomach by the paedo.

Have you got all that? Are the battle lines drawn clearly enough for you?

Oh, hang on. There’s more. Right, we have to have the sensitive floppy-haired Cambridge student, beaten to within an inch of his life (and who’s had his pretty floppy-haired-framed face scarred), whose rich dad happens to be Sean Bean’s ex-CO. Then, there’s the ex-copper (and I know you’re ahead of me), let down by years of police bureaucracy and hand-tied PC nonsense and corruption, who happens to be the driver for the barrister. They’re all connected, isn’t it clever?

All ‘let down by the system’. All eager to fight back. And they do, once the weasel-y little security guard (he dies, natch) has glued them all together.

So, Sean (training, chip on the shoulder) gets them all together to teach them how to ‘fight back’. This is the phrase on the posters, of course: Fighting Back. Sigh. Fighting to get ‘our’ country back. I don’t really have the energy to continue, readers, but I will.

So, they learn to fight back with the help of Bob Hoskins’s ex-cop (who can keep them ‘one step ahead of the Law’) they’re fed a list of names of gangsters, drug dealers, nonces, rapists, social workers, single mums, etc. who have destroyed the fabric of our society. This involves some pretty graphic footage, all done in that Saving Private Ryan hand-held 8mm jerky action-looks-really-good-and-gritty-style that they use everywhere these days. It is, as you might imagine, utterly over done, and the feckin’ camera never stays still once, not even in two person conversations where there’s not supposed to be any tension at all. Knees and heads are broken, lead piping gets wielded, baseball bats get chucked about, it all goes off.

Nick Love, who also made The Football Factory, clearly loves his fight scenes and there are endless beatings and kickings here. After a very short time this becomes as interesting as the Last of the Summer Wine episode where Compo decided to stay in and have a really good poo. But with less laughs and not as much class or sociological insight.

Like I say, it soon gets boring, and you switch off from the plot – which is childish and patronising and basically tells us we’re on our own, that we’re being “bullied and raped by cunts like Blair” and that we can’t expect the Police to help us, so we have to do what’s necessary – and watch the people up on the screen with utter contempt. The single biggest insult here is that they try to tell us that this isn’t what it really is. This isn’t a piece of ugly, right wing, naive, reactionary filth, because they hang the weasel-y little racist guy and shoot his kneecap out and leave him to the crows. But that’s bollocks, it’s just a throwaway piece of window dressing hand-wringing to make us think these numpties have a fucking conscience. After they dispatch the little runt, they split up but – and I loved this – while on the run, the Sean Bean character is helped by yer average Joe Schmoe who implies that we’re all behind him. Toe-curling isn’t even halfway adequate to describe it.

Eventually, the team come back together to finish their little vigilante mission (which seems to focus around the mafioso mentioned earlier, who’s in league with the police, who set up our heroes, are you awake at the back?), ready for the big gunfight where Sean gets deaded after he goes out in typical betrayed soldier style (upstanding, bravely, in a hail of bullets), and noble principled black guy goes out in typical you-utter-bastards style (hands up, police marksman taking orders from the main nasty policeman, single shot). Dyer escapes and accosts the Mr Big at the end and – with a cheeky little potato-smile from his cheeky little potato face – shoots the skinheaded bad guy in the head. Credits roll.

Egad. This is a terrible, terrible film. It’s bold and loud and full of puffed up self-righteous naive politics. Check out the truly dreadful Official Site for even more nonsense. Hover over that ‘enter’ and hear the gun being cocked for an additional wince.

The hard-done by characters in this are all well-to-do (city bankers, barristers, sons of gentry) or plucky Little Guys (ex-army, ex-Force). The racist security guy gets offed by the ‘good’ guys to prove they’re OK…but after that they go straight back to the main theme of brutal vigilante retaliation. Despite the brief attempt at moralising, the path of least resistance is quickly re-discovered. Seems we aren’t supposed to even consider the poor wretched unfortunates on sink estates who have to cope with brutality and poverty as a daily grinding occurrance, just the nice people who come shuddering up against nastiness by accident in an otherwise sunshine and lollipops peaceful world. Perhaps that really would involve too much soul-searching, and these cardboard characters aren’t up to that.

The best thing about this was the trailer for 300 before it started. The next best thing was that I was the only person in the entire cinema watching it. And that on a Friday night.

Maybe the British public aren’t as eager to lap up this shit as the film makers believe?

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