4, July, 2012

The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan

Directed by: Paul Tanter

Review by Bill Harrington

There's a danger that in years to come historians will be convinced that Britain's most significant contribution to culture in the early part of the 21st century was the London gangster film. So many of these cheap and occasionally nasty films have been churned out since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels reinvented the genre, it can be hard to distinguish one from the other, especially when the cast list looks remarkably familiar from film to film. The Rise and Fall of a White Collar Hooligan is one of the latest of its type to emerge, enjoying a limited cinema release before its dvd release on the 2nd July. Unfortunately there's little original or memorable about it to distinguish it from its peer group.

However, that may have always been the intention. Nick Nevern, who is a veteran of such capers, plays Mike, a man who juggles genuine if inept attempts at securing respectable employment with a career in football hooliganism. The latter seems to entirely consist of shouting 'You facking cahnt, you dickhead' at riot police and occasionally getting bottled. With all attempts at getting a legitimate job exhausted, he takes up the offer of some driving work for an old friend, Eddie (Simon Phillips), who has done well for himself since they were previously friends in their youth. Suspicious of the nature of the work but desperate for cash he is persuaded by his old chum to take on the job. Inevitably, it is dodgy - delivering equipment for a credit card cloning ring. Nick is initially won over by the easy money and the fun lifestyle it affords, but a bungled job on an away trip to Paris leads to his incarceration and on his eventual release his reward for keeping silent is to be dragged deeper into an increasingly dangerous and violent world, where the only viable way out seems to be death.

From the off the clichés come thick and fast. The hero isn't a bad bloke, he just needs to get by however he can. He has a loyal and tolerant girlfriend, but he's never happier than when he's exchanging loud and witless banter with his iffy mates, or hoovering great tramlines of coke up his snout and then enjoying a knee trembler with a dissolute tart (who just happens to have a bit of a heart). The script is 50% 'fackin,' 10% 'you cahnt', the rest is dialogue. Characterisation? No, there isn't a great deal of that. Nearly everyone in the film is a cockney villain, even the Manchester gangster who expresses a raging dislike for southerners. The police are just as wide as their quarry too. The film is supposedly based on a true story, but it never feels like one. It rarely feels like more than a by the numbers gangster flick, and it makes you wish that British film-makers would come up with something more original. Perhaps in future producers might reconsider tinkering with their film if any of the following elements are present -

(1) a cockney/London character delivering a voiceover about his life of crime, or saying 'Sweet!' at any point;
(2) a montage of dodgy geezers on a night out, drinking shots, doing coke, shagging girls and generally being lary;
(3) Billy Murray cast as a crimelord.

The film also made me ask myself 'Is it a good idea to use an electro-shock weapon on someone you're holding on to?' I would have thought it a terrible idea, but a character here manages it without any ill effect to himself.

I respect people who have the dedication and the craft to make almost any film, I really do, and to give the film its due the director (Paul Tanter) and editing show real flair. For the small budget the film is technically a very capable job. It's just a shame it seems that the easy option for British film-makers is to churn out yet another crime film. It does have a couple of ideas that veer from the norm, the nerd gang facilitating the scam; the protagonist's reasonably amusing and woefully unsuccessful job interviews, but generally you've seen it all before. Not necessarily better but certainly before, and I imagine that throughout the running time the response from most of the audience will be a mass rolling of eyes.