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Wild Bill
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Wild Bill More at IMDbPro »

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58 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

A great British gem and wonderful directorial debut

9/10
Author: tonetalk from United Kingdom
24 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a rare occurrence for me to see a film that I know very little about and with the mass marketing of most movies nowadays it's quite a difficult thing to achieve. However, in the case of Wild Bill the only thing I knew was that the film marks Dexter Fletcher's directorial debut.

The film centres around the eponymous Bill who we meet upon his release from prison on The Isle of Wight following an eight year stretch for various transgressions in his early life. Bill returns to his home in East London to find that his two young sons have been abandoned by their mother and are now trying to cope on their own whilst avoiding the gaze of social services. The eldest son has taken on the paternal role and is reluctant to relinquish this upon his fathers return but this reluctance pales in comparison to Bill's own lack of interest in raising his sons. There are the expected gangster side stories (it is East London after all) but the heart of the movie is concerned with Bill re-establishing the relationships with his boys and attempting to go straight.

The fact that I can report that Wild Bill is an excellent little film provides me with much joy. The above synopsis might make it sound like a Mike Leigh kitchen sink drama but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a genuinely funny film and Fletcher takes a lot of time to fashion characters that the audience can sympathise with and relate to. The gangsters are slightly two dimensional but this doesn't detract from the warm and rewarding tale of a man finally growing up and embracing his responsibilities.

Dexter Fletcher shows that his near 30 years as an actor have taught him many things about the art of directing and he takes to this role with great aplomb. A particular high point in the film, from a directorial point of view, comes when Bill is teaching his youngest son to throw paper airplanes from their high rise flat. The camera follows one of these planes as is loops and circles to the ground in a beautiful continuous shot that marks a significant turning point in the protagonists journey.

The cast are well employed here and Charlie Creed-Miles (Bill) does a wonderful job of holding the piece together and transforming the character from a good for nothing ex con into a caring father, willing to do anything for his sons. Special mention should go to Will Poulter who plays Bill's eldest son (Dean). This young man has a very bright future ahead and the maturity of his performance is incredibly touching. Those who remember Poulter from his earlier movie 'Son of Rambow' will not be surprised to see that this teenage actor is developing into a fine young talent indeed. The rest of the cast reads like a who's who of journeymen British actors and it would not surprise me to learn that many of the performers who have short cameos aren't simply doing this for their old mate Dexter.

There are comparisons to be made between the story here and that of many an old fashioned western but the point isn't laboured. A scene towards the end of the film actually put me in mind of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven in a rather odd way (look for the pub fight) and this only increased my affection for this wonderful film.

The East End backdrop is dominated by the recent additions of the Olympic Stadia and Dean actually has a job working on the construction site of the velodrome. The renewal of the area is an obvious metaphor for Bill's transformation from old east end villain to new, loving family man. I cannot imagine, however, that LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) intend to use this film as an enticement for tourists as it still shows a gritty underbelly to the area that no number of sporting developments can hope to erase.

Wild Bill will garner a lot of praise and hopefully ensure that Dexter Fletcher's voice as a writer and director is encouraged and used to make further such homegrown gems. I, for one, cannot wait to see what he makes next.

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27 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Dind't expect much and I'm really happy I saw it.

9/10
Author: AlphaWebProductions from Estonia
20 July 2012

I must say, this is my first movie review ever, and that was the movie which made me do so.

Plot made me to really get into story and kept me hooked from beginning.

It was really well and acted. Cast did just awesome job especially parts they had to show characters emotions. I haven't seen a good British drama since "Harry Brown"

So if you are person who loves dramas which bring up a lot emotions and makes you put yourself in characters position, I Definitely recommend this film. I give it 9/10.

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21 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Brit film making at its best

8/10
Author: weemonk from United Kingdom
25 July 2012

Oh Dexter Fletcher! How I have your name engraved in my mind for all eternity from when I was a little boy watching 'Press Gang'. An iconic name for those of my generation and British acting. He managed to appear in many a film but never a leading man but now tries his hand at directing.

I think Mr Fletcher may have found his way of breaking out by stepping behind the camera. What we have here is a very well written and directed film debut about a man who is released from prison and finds himself looking after his 2 sons whose mother has abandoned them.

It isn't an exciting film as this is a drama with some light humour thrown in. It's quality British film making where we go and take a peak at something which is more than likely true to real life.

Many familiar fine British actors are recognisable in this film and Mr Fletcher no doubt had no trouble in bringing out their finest performances as I'm sure he's probably friends or familiar with them. This makes viewing the film as if watching real life.

So, if you want to take break and watch something engaging then do so by watching Wild Bill. The performances are great (Will Poulter will be a star one day), the story is realistic and gritty and the direction for a first timer is spot on. This isn't the type of film you'll watch repeatedly but the type you'll be glad that you've seen the once.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

an understated minor classic

8/10
Author: andygberry1 from United Kingdom
4 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had heard good things about this film, and I'm pleased to say that it more than lived up to my expectations. There is something about Wild Bill that lifts it above being just another British socio-realist drama. The soundtrack is fantastic with tracks by The Clash and Aaron Neville enhancing certain moments in the film. There is the Western influence with Bill, played by Charlie Creed-Miles, who gives a wonderfully understated performance, trying to do the right thing against the odds, and dishing out some righteous revenge to the gang of drug dealers that exploited his son. But there is one scene in particular, where Bill shows his youngest son how to make paper aeroplanes and they launch one out of the window of their tower block flat and the camera duly follows it as it gets blown around the London skyline, which is pure poetry. I certainly think that Dexter Fletcher will be a director to watch out for in the future, as he clearly has a love of film and surprisingly for a first time director has a grasp of what works visually. For the first time in a while, since Shane Meadows, I'm excited about the work of a British filmmaker and can't wait for his next film. He's certainly laid down a marker with Wild Bill.

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19 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Didn't expected much however wasn't disappointed

Author: Amit Shil from ipswich
24 March 2012

Went to watch this movie after an awful time watchin "The Hunger Games". Not to expect much out of it this movie really surprised & amazed me.

The story line's smooth with good performances all round. Liked the plot with the father returning after doing time to the so called home, the kids settling in a parent less world and sudden chaos caused with the father's return not to forget the intervention of the child services & the so called drug peddlers pitching in to a a nicely woven story. Must acknowledge the director for the good work.

Its been a good Saturday end thanks to "Wild Bill"

Rating 7 of 10, go out and watch this good flick.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

An urban British drama with soul.

8/10
Author: Robyn Nesbitt (nesfilmreviews) from United States
17 July 2013

A mixture of urban grit, humor, and emotional turbulence while maintaining a sense of authenticity throughout, director Dexter Fletcher delivers a prominent, charming British drama. Thanks to a deeply heartfelt script--a cast that boasts a wealth of British acting talent (including Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Andy Serkis, and Jaime Winstone), "Wild Bill" successfully adds a fresh approach and perspective to the heavily saturated genre of broken families and urban decay.

Charlie Creed-Miles gets top billing here as "Wild Bill," the former drug-dealing tough guy who has spent the past 8 years under lock and key. Returning home on parole to find his two sons abandoned by their mother, Bill is blackmailed by his eldest, embittered son Dean into sticking around until the threat of being placed into social services has passed. As Bill begins to bond with his younger son Jimmy (Sammy Williams), local drug dealer "T" (Leo Gregory), digs his claws into both father and son.

Fletcher's debut is outstanding, and Charlie Creed-Miles performance as Bill is a knockout. Bill, whose hasty journey to redemption could so easily have seemed abhorrently contrived, yet strangely feels incredibly organic and totally believable. The enjoyment of "Wild Bill" is derived from its incredibly nuanced and engaging performances.

Many societal issues are addressed in Wild Bill: neglected children, alcoholism, prostitution, teen pregnancy, drug dealing, and the impact of role models on today's youth (or the lack thereof). Yet the film manages to remain far lighter than its weighty material. Thanks in part to the sharp writing by Fletcher and co-writer Danny King; Wild Bill manages to be funny without sacrificing the emotional power that drives the narrative.

"Wild Bill" is one of those rare films that possesses energy and vibrancy that manages to keep you rooting for its characters from start to finish. Fletcher's debut will not be an instant hit that propels his name into the spotlight--or recognized by the general public, yet he should be commended for creating a genuinely delightful piece of British social realism laced with charisma and wit. For audiences, "Wild Bill" is a surprisingly entertaining and well-told story that is far more relevant than most would want to believe.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Council Estate Western.

9/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
22 March 2014

Wild Bill is directed by Dexter Fletcher who also co-writes the screenplay with Danny King. It stars Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Liz White, Sammy Williams, Charlotte Spencer, Leo Gregory, Neil Maskell and Iwan Rheon. Music is by Christian Henson and cinematography by George Richmond.

Wild Bill Hayward (Creed-Miles) is just out of prison after serving eight years. Heading home he finds his two sons Dean (Poulter) and Jimmy (Williams) fending for themselves after their mother abandoned them. Bill hadn't planned on hanging around, but if he doesn't then the boys will be taken into care. More pressing is that the local drug runners have got young Jimmy working for them, Bill might just have to take his parental responsibilities to another level and justify his Wild reputation.

Splendid piece of British grit and wit, Wild Bill follows in the traditions of films directed by British actors, who for their debut directing assignment impressed with the ability to grab the attention and no loosen the grip. Fletcher has done a bang up job here, managing to turn what could have been a standard dysfunctional family melodrama into something more meaningful, engaging and suspenseful.

Story is set to the backdrop of working class London, where the building of the Olympic stadium serves as a beacon of hope in the distance, while our principal characters struggle through a world of grimy flats, empty pubs, dirty cafés and drug infested council estates.

The narrative operates on two fronts, Bill (Miles superb) is trying to keep on the straight and narrow, as he candidly observes, if his dog craps on the pavement he will get 18 months back in prison! But as he tries to build a relationship with his two sons, especially the older and more colder Dean, circumstances are drawing him back into the violent world he desperately wants to leave behind. It's this angle that gives the film its suspense, as viewers we are wondering if Bill can achieve his goals, will he get a break, will the family become one unit?

Elsewhere the film operates as a coming of age story, where Dean has had to grow up real fast to look after his younger brother, even taking on employment at the age of 15 to provide for Jimmy and himself. Then there is matters of the heart, as he is strongly attracted to local girl Steph (Spencer), this aspect is very well handled by Fletcher, who gets the excellent Poulter to deftly portray those early nerves when Cupid starts to draw back its bow, the tentative fumblings of young love easily identifiable to us all.

Pic is full of familiar British faces, most of them just stopping by in cameos to lend friendly support to Fletcher's project. They all offer a reassuring presence to proceedings, adding further weight to what is damn fine debut picture. Sometimes violent, often heart warming and tender, and very laugh out loud funny, Wild Bill is a winner. 9/10

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Great movie.

10/10
Author: wljpalmer from London
21 July 2012

Watched this movie knowing nothing about it, and with the name wild bill, though it was one of those silly lets kill everyone movies, but i was absolutely engrossed by this movie from the first 5 mins, great storyline, and great acting, and being from this part of London myself, it catches the essence of life in the London ghetto life, and towards the end of the movie you really feel for the lead character and find yourself getting chocked up for the guy.

8 out of 10 from me, and i'm normally a hard critic of English films as there been so much rubbish in the last few years coming out of england.

I'm fully intent to watch this film again, and this time take my wife so she can see what i was raving about to her about this film.

Charlie Creed-Miles and Will Poulter have given me faith in English films again...

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Working on the rigs up North....

7/10
Author: FlashCallahan from Leicester, United Kingdom
2 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After 8 years inside Bill Hayward returns home to find his now 11 and 15 year old sons abandoned by their mother and fending for themselves.

Dean the older boy has found a job and is doing his best to bring up his younger brother Jimmy, but the arrival of Bill has brought them to the attention of social services.

With the danger of being put into care looming, Dean forces his Dad to stay by threatening to grass him up for dealing. He agrees to stay for a week to fool social services that the boys are being cared for.

Bill quickly connects with Jimmy and through this new bond starts to realise what he's been missing. He has a family, he is a father.

However, their happy family is short lived when Jimmy gets into trouble with Bill's old cohorts....

You would be forgiven, if you thought this was just another one of those kitchen sink type London dramas that arrived ten a penny after the arrival of one Guy Ritchie.

And while this has similarities to many of those films, thanks to Fletchers great direction, and the genius portrayal of the titular character by Miles, this is one of those rare cases where a British film about a criminal trying to go straight, despite his past catching up with him, is very, very good.

It helps too that the chemistry between the screen family is solid, and it's pretty believable. Apart from the typecast white guy who thinks he is of a different ethnicity, its very believable, the villains are to your typical wide boys, and it's very funny and sweet in places.

It's a shame that it does carry the burden of an atypical Brit crime flick, but it's a very powerful family drama, that carries emotional depth, and a very funny streak throughout.

Recommended.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Excellent!...

9/10
Author: Andy Steel
27 January 2013

Really well made with the first-time director making full use of his actors and their surroundings to make a film that is great to look at as well as being a well put together drama. All the main characters were excellently played by Charlie Creed-Mills, Will Poulter (who I last saw in the (also excellent) 'Son of Rambow'), the young Sammy Williams and Leo Gregory. I should also mention Liz White as Roxy and Charlotte Spencer as Steph; both did a great job also. A film with great emotional depth that doesn't over-play the drama too much and I have to admit I really enjoyed it!

SteelMonster's verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

My score: 9.0/10.

You can find an expanded version of this review on my blog: Thoughts of a SteelMonster.

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