GANGSTER NO. 1 (2000)


Directed By: Paul McGuigan
Written By: Louis Mellis & David Scinto
Adaptation By: Johnny Ferguson
Cinematography: Peter Sova
Editor: Andrew Hulme 

Cast: Paul Bettany, Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Saffron Burrows, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Jamie Foreman, Ken Granham 

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.

Everyone is perfectly cast it’s a star making role for Paul bettany and a film that certainly made me a big fan of his.

Though Malcolm McDowell is a great actor his performance later in the film feels a bit off. As it doesn’t match the skill, charisma and intensity of Paul Bettany’s performance of the same character in his younger years throughout most of the film. Maybe his characters life of excess, guilt and savagery he is supposed to represent the end product but it feels too much like a performance and a rather nasty one. As he plays more of a thug who got lucky.

Paul Bettany’s performance matches the film for it’s slickness and smooth visuals. Provocative camera work and angles. It’s a visually fun film while being an emotional chess match.

Bettany plays the role for sly and regal mysterious. His and the films standout scene is the one where bettany’s character gets revenge on a rival gangster. It is filled with so much emotion and intensity while also being violently barbaric. That it comes off as a perfect scene. It is essentially a gangster tale involving an unknowing love triangle when a gangster falls in love with a singer his newly acquired henchman becomes jealous and decides to play him against rival gangsters to get his boss to see him As a necessity and focus more on work then the girl. When that doesn’t work he feels betrayed and plans his ascent while designing his boss’s downfall.

The film presents a homoerotic edge while being a full blown gangster film. Set in the 1970’s. It’s not as gritty and detail oriented as most crime thrillers but it does have a sense of excitement amongst the dread. It might not be as deep as it should be. It it will garner a reaction from the audience.

When I decided to watch this film I didn’t expect much. I thought it would be a typical time waster. I was pleasantly surprised by the film. Which amazes me quite a few times it’s the second film of director Paul McGuigan

This is the first of many collaborations between director Paul McGuigan and actor Paul Bettany. What I believe made this film different though it has the same vivid visions and surreal atmosphere, color schemes as the other films. This film had a good script and dedicated actors and stayed more in the realm of reality more. So it didn’t seem so outlandish.

This film kind of got lost and never got the following it should have as it was overshadowed by a rival gangster film from Britain that came out at. A similar time Ames SEXY BEAST with a heavily touted Oscar Nominated role for Ben Kingsley.

Grade: A-

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