Cast: Frank Harper, Craig Fairbrass, Vincent Regan, Ashley Walters, Neil Maskell, Luke Treadaway, Jamie Foreman, Keeley Hazell, Dexter Fletcher, Sean Pertwee and Charles Dance
Running time: 103 Minutes
The British film industry is (in)famous for its period costume dramas, where beauties in their bodices flutter their eyelashes as the men attempt to play romantic hero and restrain themselves from putting their hands under their corsets, and the gangster film, where bullets fly, bodies drop, and everyone is a ‘fackin’ caaant’! ST. GEORGE’S DAY certainly falls into the latter, and while it’s not quite in the same class as SEXY BEAST or THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, it wipes the floor with the usual tripe.
ST. GEORGE’S DAY sees actor Frank Harper headline as Micky and make his directorial debut with a solid effort aided by an equally solid cast that come together to tell a ruthless tale. Craig Fairbrass, familiar for playing brutal meatheads, gives his best performance yet as Ray Collishaw, a man tired of living life on the wrong side of the law. One of the best things about the film, Ray gives a level-headed, hesitancy towards his criminal lifestyle after years at the top. Most of the supporting cast are superb too, especially Vincent Regan’s Scottish pal Albert Ball, who, despite being described by Harper in his narration as an unhinged headcase, comes across as the brains of the outfit.
After the initial last big score goes ‘tits-up’ (a major cocaine deal with the Russians), they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place – some having sunk everything into the deal hoping to leave the criminal world behind. Not wanting to start a war with the Mob (on the advice of life-long mentor Trenchard, played by Charles Dance), Micky, Ray and Albert put plan B into action with the help of Micky’s brother Tommy and his gang of football hooligans. The plan sees a scheduled punch up before an England Vs Germany football match, on St George’s Day, create a diversion whilst the crew pull off a diamond raid under the nose of trailing Detective Nixon (Jamie Forman).
If there is a major fault with the film, other than the depiction of women as WET (it’s explained in the film), trophies, strippers or prostitutes, it’s the finale. Whilst exciting and fulfilling, it comes across morally repugnant, with the ‘jolly boys outing’ suggesting crime does pay after all. Harper and his cast deserve massive credit for making such dubious characters empathetic.
ST. GEORGE’S DAY is one for the lads and even if you’re tired of the dire (and Dyer) crime-thrillers of recent times, don’t let those put you off catching this enjoyable effort.
ST. GEORGE’S DAY is released on DVD and Blu-ray 24th December. You can read our interview with Frank Harper here