Spiv. -n, coloq. Man, especially a flashily dressed on, living from shady dealings.Not just a definition, but how the movie starts, so you're totally aware of what's being talked about here. Jack (Stott) is a spiv, the ringleader if you will of a small gang of con artists. His accomplices are Steve (Moran) and Jenny (Ashfield) and between them, they scam their way for a living. Steve's brother in law, Goat (Monaghan) is also involved with their dealings, but to a lesser extent as he is a complete stoner and is therefore a liability. Their latest scam is to obtain the contents of a cargo container, which is holding illegal contraband. Even though the plan has slight hitches, they obtain the container but while it contains something illegal, its not booze or cigarettes - it's Russian immigrants, who are here to be sold into the sex trade. By opening the container, our “heroes” have literally set free the immigrants, which is probably why the Russian Mafia aren't impressed and are now after the con artists.Well, this is a British movie, so automatically I'm waiting to be unimpressed, but this was quite enjoyable. Although most people may compare it to the typical English gangster movies we've been making in recent years, this isn't really anything like them. Sure it's set in London and the main protagonists are criminals, but they are con artists, not thugs. As such, it has a kind of “Hustle” feel to it, being about the con etc. but then it becomes a more endearing movie, dealing with characters and emotions, rather than the cons. A certain event happens about two thirds through the movie that brings about this contrast of styles and while there's an element of “What?”, I feel that it does actually make this a better movie as we have to sympathise with the characters and indeed, they have to reflect on their current situation and not just the one involving the Russians.
Stott is superb here, really coming across as a particularly unsympathetic person at the beginning, but slowly and surely showing much more emption and compassion during the events. Moran seems to be stuck in a rut, playing a very similar role to the ones we've seen before in Lock Stock, but is still watchable nonetheless. Kate Ashdown, whom I recognised on the cover but couldn't place (Shaun's G/F in Shaun of the the Dead!) is fine here also and might I say, more attractive than in SOTD (and not just because she's wearing lingerie!) In fact, I'd be surprised if she doesn't feature in more movies now. A few choice cameos appear, such as Jack Dee and Paul “Dennis Pennis” Kaye, which work quite well too, particularly Dee's turn. Plot wise, it moves along at a fair pace and doesn't drag nor outstay it's welcome, provided of course you aren't expecting Lock,Stock 2. As I mentioned in an earlier review, sometimes it's nice to see a British film like this as opposed to the awfulness that is “Love Actually” or “Four Weddings” and I was quite impressed with this.