A middle-aged crime boss smugly reflects back from 1999, narrating the brutality which made him triumphant - and feared. As an unnamed young hood in Swinging 60's London, he aped his mod boss Freddie Mays, and seemed to do anything for him. But his narration exposes all-consuming envy: of Freddie's supremacy, and especially his tall bird. The baby shark develops his viciousness and backstabbing, scheming to be Gangster No. 1. Written by
Beyond the height differential, the two actors playing "Gangster" have very different eye color. This is especially noticeable, as they continually ask people to "look them in the eye". See more »
[song "The Good Life" begins as scene opens at boxing match; crowd noises]
What? With Scotland Yard breathing down me neck? Fuck off. Do me a favor!
See more »
Gangster No.1 shows the rise and fall of a prominent English gangster. Malcolm McDowell is Gangster 55, telling the story in voice overs, and Paul Bettany shines as the Young Gangster giving a great performance, which carries the film from cookie cutter gangster film, to one of the best.
This film is filled with inspirations from many others, such as Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Get Shorty, etc. While some do work, such as "Look into my eyes", others don't, McGuigan, near the end of the film, fast forwards through decades in just a couple of minutes, we don't feel like we are with these people throughout their reign of terror in England. The film does have bits of originality, such as the "torture" while we see the FPV of the victim, fades in and out in his dying minutes, as the killer stands over his body, continuing the slaughter.
Paul Bettany shows how good he is in this film as he carries it to another level. His eyes in his "Look into my eyes" scenes are so hollow and terrifying that you know if he was interrogating you, that he could and probably would kill you at anytime. He has the look in his sharp suits and the style. It's a shame no awards went his way. McDowell, to me in this film is a little bit of, I don't know how to say it, but he didn't do all that much for me. The rest of the cast holds up well, blending well with the story line and environments they are put in.
The script is sharp and has a Goodfellas/Reservoir Dogs feel to it, the Goodfellas aspect shows the rise and fall, where as Reservoir Dogs, comes from it's dialouge. I've never heard the word c*nt used so many times. The film took it's time to showcase the rise of this young gangster from a common thug, to a crime lord. The one thing that did out me off though was the fact the he was just picked up out of a bar and given a spot. When Freddie goes to prison, that's when the young gangster takes his spot in being no. 1. Years go by and Freddie finally is released, while McDowell eagerly awaits his return, he expect some conflict, but what he get is a let down, I won't ruin what happens, but you'd expect something explosive.
So Gangster No. 1 showcases great performances from the actors involved and shows a great story that takes it time, instead of bang bang, you're dead. The film just lacks that one special thing to take it to greatness, above and beyond those other movies, but for now, it can just be the one to stand out.
13 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?