Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan (2012) Film Review
The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
This film is being promoted with a quote from nuts: "Hard as nails Brit gangster thriller." So far, so good. The trouble is that there are a lot of those around, so how are fans to know if this particular one is worth watching? It's far from the hardest - the violence is mostly implied rather than shown, and what we do see is quite tame. Its formulaic plot (based on a true story) means it's easy to guess what's coming next, so it's not the most thrilling. What it does have going for it is a topical twist on the gang theme and a breakthrough performance from Nick Nevern that gives us a protagonist we can relate to.
Ever since Tarantino burst onto the scene, the majority of gangster films have tried to play it ultra-cool. That's tough to pull off at the low end of the market and too often it results in tales that are bland and unengaging, worth watching only for the action set pieces. Nevern is physical enough when the plot calls for it (which is probably less than most genre fans would like) but he aims to make his character, Mike, an everyman. Scenes of distress suggest not just anger but also vulnerability, making it easier for viewers to put themselves in his shoes, making the sort of threats that are two a penny on the big screen seem meaningful again.
Mike is distressed because he's out of his depth. Unemployed, frustrated, bored, with only street fights after football matches to alleviate his stress, he's dreaming of something better. So he takes an offer of cash in hand for a bit of driving. Of course it leads to further offers. This isn't about drugs - it's about credit card fraud, stealing card details to withdraw money from cash machines. The film's argument is that anything illegal is prone to turn ugly when gangs become involved, with all the usual hard men and flashy-suited villains eager for a slice of the action. There's an attempt to connect this with high level corruption in the finance industry that never quite gels. Nevertheless, it sends a timely message about data security.
The risk with this theme is that it all feels a bit too middle class to pack the punch it needs. Early scenes of football related violence are cliched but effective - they have an energy that the latter part of the film struggles to match. The potentially interesting contrast between Mike's willingness to put himself in immediate physical danger in a riot and his fear once crime lords start making threats is underexplored. One scene where he finds himself incapacitated is handled well but the scriptwriter doesn't seem to know what to do with it in the aftermath. This may in part be due to an unwillingness to stray from the story on which the film is based. No doubt it sounds riveting down the pub but it isn't always cinematic and it really could have done with some restructuring.
Framing all this is a voiceover, another familiar feature of the genre that struggles to sound fresh. Though Nervern hadles the film's occasional deadpan comedy scenes well, his talents don't quite extend to this and in places it sounds as though Mike is bored by his own story. That's a shame because the film is certainly trying to do something different and in places it succeeds. It's a perfectly serviceable grimy little crime thriller, it just struggles to stand out.Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2012
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