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January 2013

Pusher

cast: Richard Coyle, Agyness Deyn, Bronson Webb, Mem Ferda, and Neil Maskell

director: Luis Prieto

89 minutes (18) 2012
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2

RATING: 7/10
review by Donald Morefield

Pusher

Frank is in big trouble again. You remember him? He was a drug dealer in Nicolas Winding Refn's acclaimed Danish crime drama Pusher (1996), a movie that produced a couple of sequels, and launched its maker from the Euro indie scene to mainstream success with the electrifying Drive.

This slick remake of Pusher is based on London, and its polished re-telling of the edgy Copenhagen story, 15 years later, makes for a somewhat different style of multi-cultural entertainment. As the sympathetic protagonist descends into his long week of hell, when nothing goes right for him, everything that could go wrong offers yet another proof about Murphy's Law.

Newcomer Luis Prieto directs Pusher as a chain of personal disasters just waiting to happen, as doomed Frank (Richard Coyle, Grabbers, 5 Days Of War, TV spy-fi series Covert Affairs), borrows to finance a drug deal, even though he's already deeply in debt. When the big deal goes sour, a string of betrayals and punishments ensue that wreck every aspect of Frank's life and relationships.

Frank's girlfriend, stripper Flo (played by gorgeous model Agyness Deyn, 'Aphrodite' in the Clash Of The Titans remake), is always watchable, even when she's amidst the relentless sleaze. There's also plenty of violent action and comedy antics, especially from Frank's tragically dopey sidekick, Tony (Bronson Webb, excellent in his first major role). For the underworld opposition, Milo is played by Zlatko Buric, who previously carried his character through the original Pusher trilogy, and whose presence here brings a much needed continuity to this remake.

Prieto's Pusher delivers just the right measures of sleaze and violence, alongside tender moments exposing the characters' humanity, or lack of it, and the movie is very good as a modern take on a classic noir tale, presenting us with a fall from grace, as overambitious Frank's failure record changes him from a rogue hero into a nasty piece of work.

Underworld scum deliver strong language in slanging matches that might offend the prudish, but this seems a vivid portrait of criminality without needlessly glamorising the complete absence of social graces, as other British gangster movies like Layer Cake did. The energetic score by Orbital meshes perfectly with some dazzling visuals, and Pusher is certainly well worth your viewing time, whether or not you are already familiar with the source material.



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