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Rotary Action - helicopter movies
cast: Tamer Hassan, Danny Dyer, Brenda Blethyn, Phil Davis, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson
director: Alex De Rakoff
88 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Revolver DVD Region 2 retail
review by Barbara Davies
Dead Man Running
It's not loveable-but-broke cockney, ex-gangster Nick's day. First his Mayfair dominatrix girlfriend's kitchen is repossessed, then loan shark
Thigo (Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson) demands his £100,000 back within 24 hours or Nick's wheelchair-bound mother (Brenda Blethyn) gets it. While hitman
Johnny Sands (Phil Davis) keeps a shotgun trained on mum, Nick (Tamer Hassan) and sidekick Bing (Danny Dyer) set off in search of the readies.
With some stolen stake money in their pockets, they head for an illegal street fight and a nobbled dog race and soon turn a tidy profit. It's not
enough, however; they need to think bigger. So to Manchester in a stolen black cab they head, to deliver some cocaine. But every step forward is
followed by two steps back, and it soon becomes clear that Thigo, determined to make an example of Nick, is sabotaging their efforts. As the clock
ticks, an increasingly desperate Nick begins to consider committing crimes he normally wouldn't touch with a bargepole.
With its references to Nookie Bear and Madchester style raves, Dead Man Running feels oddly dated. And the values underpinning it are dubious
to say the least - we are asked to side with drug runners and hitmen. The plot feels familiar from other British gangster movies and relies heavily
on coincidence. And Hassan and Dyer have acted together several times, and they're a good fit, but the banter they're given to deliver here feels
a little forced at times. Characterisation also suffers at the expense of the plot or a quick laugh. It's hard, for example, to believe that Nick
would really be so dim as to offer his travel-shop customers skiing holidays in Dubai, or that his girlfriend's rich clients would all turn out to
be kinky and gormless.
As for Nick's mother, her taste in furnishings and radio programmes is that of a much older woman. De Rakoff also piles on the cockney clichés to
such an extent - there are even jellied eels - it verges on the ridiculous. Fortunately, he's aware of the danger and makes cliché a feature, using
audience expectation to fuel some nifty plot twists. And the amusing subplot involving Nick's captive-but-far-from-helpless mum provides a nice
contrast to Nick's frantic quest so that this light-hearted gangster romp passes the time entertainingly.
Former boxer Tamer Hassan (Layer Cake, Ferryman) does a creditable
job as the hapless Nick, and Danny Dyer (Doghouse, Malice
In Wonderland) is a safe - if predictable - pair of hands as the soft-hearted cockney sidekick. I'm not sure why they needed to make the loan
shark an American, but Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson's drawl is so thick I could have done with subtitles - fortunately his screen-time is limited. As
for Brenda Blethyn (Atonement, Pride And Prejudice) and Phil Davis
(Vera Drake) their subtly comic double act threatens to steal the film.