21st Oct2014

‘The Smoke’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Matt Di Angelo, Lili Bordán, Stephen Marcus, Darren Ripley, Velibor Topic, Christian Brassington, Anna Passey, Jeff Leach, Lindsay Armaou, Alan Ford | Written by Darren Ripley | Directed by Ben Pickering


The modern British gangster movies are strange beasts, and I admit I do have a weakness for them. With acting that is often questionable and stories that tend to be on the sillier side of crime thrillers they have a charm that can even survive a Danny Dyer starring role (that was a joke, don’t bite my head off). The Smoke, to be fair, only takes a gentle stroll into the British gangster movie style, though it does feature some actors that you’ve seen in them before, and more bizarrely more than its fair share of soap stars too.

When city lawyer Brad Walker (Matt Di’Angelo) finds himself fired and dumped by his girlfriend it’s fair to say it’s the worst day of his life. When he overhears a conversation about a money dump he decides to steal the money. With the gangsters on his trail and a call girl in tow it’s time to get out of London, as quickly as possible.

The Smoke isn’t your typical British gangster movie as I’ve already hinted, as the organised crime element are somewhat in the background. Instead there is a focus on Di’Angelo’s character instead and what he does with the money. Actually trying to help his friends and save people in need shows a more kind-hearted nature to the character, even if the money he gives out comes from crime. The Smoke looks at him at his lowest point when everything has been taken away from him to see how he will act. He may steal the cash but he arguably uses it better than it was destined to be used for.

When it comes to the criminal element of the movie Alan Ford does a good job at his Bricktop style character that he is well known for. Barking out orders to Stephen Marcus and Darren Ripley who play his two subordinates he plays the convincing boss of a small gang of fools. The problem with the thugs though is they spend most of the movie completely forgetting about Walker (Di’Angelo) and the money and go on the hunt for an informant in their ranks instead. This adds a dark comedy to the film, and allows for a cameo from a soap opera actor, which at least is a positive side to their lack of focus.

With Matt Di’Angelo, Frazer Hines and Ricky Groves as well as a few others who have no doubt played bit parts in soap operas there is a novel feeling for British people who will recognise these actors from the soaps they were in. There are enough of them to wonder if the inclusion of these actors is on purpose. It almost seems like the casting was done for a little comic effect and to see if anybody would notice, and even if this is unintentional it is not a negative thing that it is mildly amusing. There is a sense of humour running through the movie that actually helps the audience enjoy it, even with its weaknesses.

The Smoke at times feels slow and some of the story decisions are questionable, especially the amount of time it takes for the thugs to actually focus on Di’Angelo’s character. It can be forgiven though for the humour it seems to have, as well as the heart put into it. Lighter than the usual gangster flicks, it may be the fact it doesn’t take itself all that seriously that makes it fun.

***½  3.5/5

The Smoke is available on DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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