Hackney’s Finest (18) Close-Up Film Review

Hackneys Finest

Dir. Chris Bouchard, UK, 2014, 90 mins

Cast: Nathaniel Wiseman, Arin Alldridge, Marlon G. Day, Enoch Frost, Rajan Sharma, Neerja Naik, Malcolm Tomlinson, Sean Cronin, Katarina Gellin

Now don’t get it twisted – if you go into Hackney’s Finest knowing exactly what to expect, you might have a great time… provided it’s what you’re in the market for. It’s the latest Guy Ritchie imitator (guys – Lock, Stock was twenty years ago… time to move on, no?) out of East London, concerning a bunch of low-rent criminals and bent coppers tripping over each other in an effort to steal/maintain a large shipment of heroin in the possession of a rather-nice Afghan family based in Hackney.

Nathaniel Wiseman, in an affable debut, plays Sirus; a small fry drug dealer who has run afoul of Arin Alldridge’s despicable corrupt policeman, Priestly. Priestly has attempted to rob the Afghans, who supply to Sirus, a plan which leads him to Sirus’ door on the evening he has his Welsh/Jamaican contingent visiting to make a purchase (a hilarious Marlon G. Day and Enoch Frost – their accents jump between Welsh and Jamaican and it works a treat comedically). We can all see where this is going – a huge shoot-out. It’s more than guaranteed when Priestly gets his Eastern European skinhead friends involved.

The entire film is no-frills entertainment, watching thinly-sketched characters played by capable actors try to outwit each other in a series of events culminating in a lengthy finale packed with gunplay and dark humour. Alldridge swaggers around like Jason Statham’s psychotic uncle, giving good menace and a true love-to-hate bad guy mould.

However, some of his dialogue does carry the mental image of writer Thorin Seex sat at his computer, smiling smugly to himself that he’s writing some of the most badass monologues ever put to paper. Were it not for Alldridge’s dedication to the bit, I fear the dialogue would have fallen flat on its face. All that said, Seex makes up for it with believable motivations and reactions for Wiseman’s Sirus, and witty one-liners for the rest of the cast. It would have been preferable if he had thrown out the Villain’s Menacing Dialogue Handbook for his main villain; like he appeared to do for henchman Malcolm Tomlinson, whose Bad Guy Number #2 role of callous bigot Terence has the ironic character tic of also being a devout Christian.

All criticism aside, one can’t deny the cast and crew’s enthusiasm for the project; everyone’s clearly having a good time. Chris Bouchard’s  direction is sure-handed, the film looks slick as can be. It’s always nice to see young British filmmakers punching above their weight and aiming for the finest product possible.

Hackney’s Finest isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s good fun – stylish, funny and absolutely quotable. An enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, even if you know exactly what you’re going to get.

Review by Dan Woburn

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Hackney’s Finest is in cinemas 3rd April and available on DVD & On Demand 13th April