Stars: Jason Wing, Bruce Payne, Sean Cronin, Sabastien Foucan, Terrence Anderson, Danny Cutler | Written and Directed by Jake. L. Reid
Love them or hate them, low-budget British crime and gangster films will never die. I know some see these types of films as guilty pleasures, but I have a genuine soft spot and overall appreciation for them. They can’t all be winners (I’m looking at you Full English Breakfast!), every now and then you get a film like Age of Kill or Orthodox. When the snobs cry about these films being mindless or silly, they seem to forget that no matter how good or bad the film in question is, it’s a great way for talented people to begin a career in the world of film. Maybe people should stop complaining about how much Robert Downey Jr. makes in his Marvel outings and maybe focus their energy on praising homegrown and often unappreciated talent? Just a thought. Anyway, let’s me get off my soapbox and on to The Antwerp Dolls, a British independent gangster film from first time writer and director Jake. L. Reid.
Tommy Callaghan (Wing) is an old-school East end gangster who is a little bit past his prime. To try and show the rest of London and his critics that he’s still got it, Tommy plans to forge a lucrative relationship with Ray (Payne) and Max Ferrino (Cronin), the Belgium mob. Tommy has his best couriers on a job to intercept a package. Unfortunately for him, former employees Mike (Anderson) and Sonny (Cutler), a pair who find him way past his prime, have the package intercepted causing a whole load of trouble for all parties involved.
It’s a fairly simple story that plays out more like a western than it does your usual gangster flick. Of course, from my understanding, this is the intention of Reid. Yes, there are some cliches here and there, but that is once again an intentional move on the directors part as it’s clear he didn’t just want to create another straight-to-video crime flick. For that, I have to applaud him. This film isn’t perfect by any means. There are aspects like corny dialogue, questionable acting in parts, a few too many characters, a story that takes a bit too long to find a steady flow and some questionable green screen work. Some reviews I have read prior to writing this were actually quite unfair to this film. Yeah, it’s got its pitfalls and may not be a modern classic, but when you take in to consideration that Reid was still studying film at the time (in fact, taking a break from his studying completely) of production and had almost little to no support aside from a select few and his cast, he’s actually produced something that looks and sounds like an actual film. You don’t know how many times I have had to sit through a film that just had no cinematic or artistic value at all.
If you can produce a film and release it, I have so much respect for you, but you (yes, you metaphorical filmmaker reading this!) can at least watch other films and know how to deal with white balance, audio and framing a shot. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be a great film. Like I said, Reid deserves a pat on the back because it’s clear that this guy is very talented indeed. There may be a bit too much going on in this film, but I enjoyed it. I wish nothing for the best for everyone involved in this production and I hope whoever reads this will at least check it out. Just remember to leave your snobbish mentality at the door!
The Antwerp Dolls is released on July 4th, courtesy of Safecracker Pictures.