The Business is a British gangster flick set on the sun-drenched southern coast of Spain. This is a tale of drug running, gun crime and local corruption from the team behind the Football Factory. It is slick, fast-paced and full of humour but descends into cliche and fails to live up to the early promise.
Danny Dyer plays Frankie, a teenage waster hating life in Thatcher´s 80´s Britain who takes the chance to jet off to Spain after beating his bullying step dad to a pulp. A local hood gets him to deliver a bag to Charlie and a whole new world opens up for him. Charlie runs a bar in Southern Spain, which is really just a front for his drug dealing. A larger than life constantly grinning and swaggering hood with a Midas touch he takes a shine to Frankie and so begins his schooling in the ways of a an ex-pat crim abroad.
Charlie and his gang fled London after one bank robbery too many and the attention largely caused by the psychotic attitude of his sidekick Sammy. Frankie immediately clashes with Sammy, in no small part because of Sammy´s bitchy flirtatious girlfriend Carly who likes to play games. As the gang get more deeply involved in drug running this relationship is strained to breaking point and sparks begin to fly.
The set-up is pretty familiar stuff and the style has been well-established by countless movies. The Business falls somewhere between Ritchie´s fast-cut obsessed, comedic Brit gangster flicks and classic American gangster films like Goodfellas and Scarface. The opening featuring on the climax of the film, followed by a flashback catch-up to that point is overly familiar and there is a little too much narration from central character Frankie.
The direction from Nick Love is good, the mood of eighties Britain is beautifully contrasted with the sun soaked hedonism of Spain and the soundtrack covers the entire decade. The violence is well handled and the whole thing trolleys along at a brisk pace. The writing, also by Love, is witty and slick but the plot is a familiar re-hash of ideas that have been done to death and for the most part events play out exactly as you´d expect.
The characters are very familiar there´s the psycho, the charismatic leader, the slutty and scheming gangster girlfriend - they do fit the standard stereotypes however some great acting performances help to build on the cartoonish outlines. Danny Dyer is always convincing with a self-deprecating brand of confidence which makes him really likeable, you naturally root for Frankie. Tamer Hassan, whom you may remember from Football Factory, is excellent here as Charlie, he really brings the character to stark living and breathing reality. Geoff Bell is the hideous thug of the group, the deranged Sammy and he looks and acts the part with ease. There are other bit players from Football Factory and a few actors I´ve not encountered before but the strong performances from Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan completely steal the show.
For a while the gang are living the high life and then naturally things begin to go wrong. The meteoric rise and even speedier fall of Charlie and Frankie is thoughtfully handled as they go from flashy, swaggering criminal heroes to desperate drug addled losers. The viewer is left in no doubt as to the downside of a life of crime but as with Football Factory this can hardly be described as condemning of the subject matter and it does tend to mildly glamorise or perhaps more accurately romanticise the lifestyle.
The Business is by no means a classic film, it is formulaic and adds little to an already over flowing genre. If it weren´t for the odd moment of hilarity, such as when Frankie goes to buy his "evening wear" or the acting performances from Dyer and Hassan as they go from playboys to rentboys then this wouldn´t be worth the 97 minutes. The Business meets expectations and is an entertaining gangster flick with some good laughs it just isn´t very original.Reviewed by Simon Hill