A firecracker of a film, except that it was exposed to dampness for too long and fails to ignite. The premise is appealing enough: a 3-man gang of East London thugs do the business for the guvnor, one "sees the light" and wants out, the others get the order to eradicate him for whatever reasons. Tension, action, exploration of a conscience-troubled character would all seem to be laid out against the backbone of the plot to make for riveting viewing. However, what we get is a clumsy, crude, badly reworked mish-mash of other films, mainly plagiarising the Quentin chap. The jokes are frankly not funny and the dialogue so depressingly unimaginative. Bad language may add to authenticity, but (unless you write like Roddy Doyle) is not the key to belly laughs. "Hard Men" wavers between wanting to be uncompromising in its violence and wanting to please all by brightening things with colourful characters. Violent it certainly is, but the attempts at humour derail the carriage, leaving the viewer with a feeling of disappointment at what could have been, given tighter scripting, better actors, an engaging score and greater focus. "Lock, Stock ..." is a long way ahead of this in all stakes.
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