Wednesday 25 June 2014

The Guvnors


Written and directed by Gabe Turner

Harley Alexander-Sule

Set in South London, The Guvnors sees the feral, fatherless, hoodied hoodlums of the modern era rail against the gangs of 30+ years ago, when there is suggestion that crime was more "decent".

Recent movies (Harry Brown etc) have trod this well-worn path, but the The Guvnors' strength lies in a combination of a gritty yet credible story, brought to life by an ensemble of outstanding performances. Hip hop star Harley Alexander-Sule, half of the platinum-selling Rizzle Kicks is Adam, a disaffected young man who commands respect from his peers with an uncompromising mix of intimidation and blade. Showing no hesitation early on in horrifically cutting a girl's face who he suspects as an informer, he moves on to demand respect from old-timer Mickey, (a classy cameo from honey-voiced David Essex). The old-school old man, a former boxing coach, floors the young pretender with one magnificent punch but tragically fails to recognise the consequences of his nobility. Adam's gang waste no time and ignoring Queensberry rules their revenge, with the brutality that the half dozen young men can inflict upon a principled pensioner, is as cowardly as it is bloody. The vicious circle spirals as the (now middle aged) former boxing club members vow to avenge their mentor's murder and leading this line of fifty-something vigilantes, Doug Allen's Mitch, a former gangster who’s still a chiselled alpha male, squares up to Adam...

Gabe Turner writes and directs a fable that is a bleak snapshot of London's underclass with just a hint of social comment. The police are an impotent force who also miss the authority imposed by old-style "firms" and who resort to brutality whenever they can get away with it. Turner also suggests that violent behaviour is more nature than nurture - Mitch's young son, a product of a comfortable two-parent home is a foul mouthed bully at his grammar school, whilst Adam's young lad, being raised motherless in a council flat by a thug, is angelic. A neat touch from Turner has the feckless father touchingly chastise his son to "eat his greens".

The soundtrack stuns, with Rizzle Kicks having written two of the numbers that give the film an edgy contemporary pulse, whilst a spot of Madness' funk offers a crumb of recognisable music for the greying dads in the audience. Turner is nothing if not a respectful filmmaker and where once The Long Good Friday spoke of a new order taking over the capital, so too does The Guvnors pay homage to that seminal London movie, with a few nicely placed nods for the film-buffs. 

Alexander-Sule's massive fan base will see that one way or another The Guvnors will clean up either at the box office or online (though probably at both). But notwithstanding its platinum plated star the movie demands respect on merit. It is a gripping and well crafted tale, that will shock, amuse and ultimately stun with a devastating climax.

The Guvnors will be released to cinemas in August 2014

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