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Pusher – Review
UKScreen Rating:

Pusher – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Small time drug dealer Frank (Richard Coyle) is tipped off to a big order by his sidekick Tony (Bronson Webb).

This amount of coke is way over his head and the only way he can meet the request is by calling in a big favour from his Turkish supplier Milo (Zlatko Buric) and his enforcer Hakan (Mem Ferda). It’s a big risk, but the returns make it worth it. What could go wrong, right?

The answer, of course, is everything.

Caught between the cops, the buyers, and suppliers who are rapidly running out of patience, Frank has to think fast to keep alive.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This remake of the 1996 Danish thriller of the same name retains the integrity of the original by virtue of it being overseen by its director, Nicolas Winding Refn.

The new version has been relocated to London, with Spanish director Luis Prieto at the helm, giving the capital a fresh outsider’s perspective – burying the story in grim, back-street locations, well away from the tourist traps that are usually thrust to the fore.

Being a remake, it’s obviously not going to feel as original as it might, but even for those unfamiliar with its predecessor, the story of a small-time drug dealer getting out of his depth is hardly ground-breaking, but it’s handled well – nicely shot and edited.

Frank felt likeable – perhaps too likeable to be a pusher. This is, of course, essential if you want the audience to identify with the protagonist, but it played into a wider problem of the character being not entirely believable. At the start, he’s particularly tough with a client – an entertaining cameo from Paul Kaye, yet as the plot begins to unfold, it emerges that on the whole, he tends to give most of his customers an awful lot of slack.

His sidekick Tony is also troubling – an exceptionally irritating presence that no mature adult would hang around with and then completely incoherent in his behaviour – betraying Frank for no apparent reason and then being surprised that he was angry about this betrayal.

Turning to acting, supermodel Agyness Deyn slips comfortably into her role as Frank’s exotic-dancer girlfriend, but the most interesting characters on screen are the Turkish kingpins; they almost seem sympathetic as they break bones in their reluctant efforts to maintain their reputation while trying to do an old mate a favour – the right combination of friendly, firm and creepy.

A heart-pounding dance-music score from Orbital provides the rhythm for a tightly choreographed, action-packed thriller, that is necessarily derivative but no less effective for it.

Sadly, the denouement is a little unsatisfying, after having given up an hour and a half of your time.

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