So what do you get if you take a cup of Sexy Beast, a teaspoon of Blow, a shake of Godfellas, and a pinch of The Apprentice, layer with a 1980s soundtrack, bake in a medium to hot oven? After twenty minutes The Business is produced. Review over. No? Oh well suppose I had better continue.
It's the mid Eighties, Frankie (Danny Dyer) has fled England, running some not so hard earned cash to ex SW3 gangsters who own and run Charlie's Bar on the Costa Del Sol. Said gangsters are Charlie (Tamer Hassen), Sammy (Geoff Bell) plus assorted others from one walk of the gangster underworld or other. Sammy's squeeze, Carly (Georgina Chapman) is not the only thing which Frankie needs to look out for.
The trio learn that there's masses amounts of cash to be earned by smuggling hashish over the Gibraltar Straights re-packing, then shipping them overland back to good Ol' Blightly. All is going well, they even have the 'backing' of the local mayor; that is until they decide to step up the drug dealing ladder; moving from marijuana to cocaine.
We've seen and heard it all before, smallish dealers not only moving from the traditionally accepted hashish but then getting out of their depth when the white powder comes along. Similarly we've seen ex pats on these sun baked shores before, not only that, but a young man being blooded in the world of organised crime is something that has graced our screens before. In all instances all have been better executed than what Nick Love, The Football Factory, has offered to us on this occasion. The writing is rather bland, presented as a looking back voice over on the preceding months and years of Frankie's roller-coaster lifestyle, with most of the expanding storylines telegraphed very early on and long before their execution comes to pass on the big screen. The characters are out of the gangster filing cabinet with all of the usual ones in there to be found, the man learning the trade, the calmed reasoned one, the brutal psychopath.
The film propels itself along at a good rate of knots though never really becoming truly yawn material, always making sure the viewer wants to get to the end scene, wants to progress onto the next. Why though I don't really know because you don't identify with any of the characters, you really don't have any empathy for them (bar perhaps Frankie), and you're not really that interested in the one dimensional seen it all before storyline. Perhaps it was that thunderous Eighties soundtrack which got the blood pumping a little. The acting is good enough for what's there with all three main leads playing their parts pretty well for the one dimensional characters they had to initially work with and that really rests at the door of Nick Love's writing from the outset. In all fairness to the actors, they certainly enjoyed their time in Spain and the scenes they were required to shoot. At times it looks as though a bunch of guys have gone off on a Club 18 - 50 holiday, had a jolly, took a video camera and come back with something they pieced together whilst drinking and clubbing. Let's face it who wouldn't enjoy that sort of work for a living?
But The Business is not made for me, both Nick Love and Danny Dyer basically admit to this from the start of the associated commentary. It's directed at the lad culture, those LOADED, FHM, NUTS readers who funnily enough seem to have given this film the all too easily published 'Fantastic' review that graces their back covers ever so often for films that really never warrant it. This fact I'm not too bothered with and in all honesty I actually enjoyed the ride which The Business gave me; it sort of hooked me in much the same way that their coke dealings hook them later in the film. Only enjoyable for me though because of the Eighties sounds and Eighties visuals that I remember all too fondly.
It's admittedly a low budget feature, that's something I never have any problems with; it's bright, brash and most certainly ballsy; a British version of the sort of 'leave your brain at home' visual nonsense akin to the vast majority of Hollywood releases over far too many years. In that regard perhaps it's good to cheer on our home grown talent (and I do believe that you should fly the flag whenever you can). But at times it's just not applicable to do so and unfortunately this is one of them. Given the opportunity I would always recommend better British gangster flicks Get Carter, The Long Good Friday and the all together excellent Sexy Beast before any of this bubble gum for the eye nonsense that took a couple of hours of my life away. If you're looking for such fair for a weekend's viewing I'd recommend any of these before you have to take The Business off the shelf. But then again, if you're a lover of Eastenders and want to know what happens to one of the nefarious characters once they take a hiatus in Spain, love incredibly crude dialogue with extensive use of the F and C word then perhaps The Business is for you. As for me, it's way down the list, there's much better examples out there for your hard earned cash. Give it a rental if the guys are coming over and make sure you have more then enough beers in the fridge to disengage your brain for a couple of hours.
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