Tuesday, December 13, 2005

John Mackenzie

A rock-bleedin-solid British gangster flick. A force-of-nature performance by Bob Hoskins. A perfectly ‘80s synth score somewhere between John Carpenter and Jan Hammer. A long Good Friday, indeed.
Bob Hoskins plays a British mob boss just back from a New York vacation in time to woo an incoming American businessman into a lucrative deal (something to do with the ’88 Olympics) that will set him up for life. But pretty soon, bombs starts going off in cars and Hoskins' men are dying right and left in church, in pubs, even in swimming pools -- a great scene where gay henchman Paul Freeman (Belloq from Raiders!) gets knifed Turkish bathhouse style by a very young Pierce Bronson.
Something obviously went down while the boss was away and Hoskins has to find out, with the help of right-hand woman Helen Mirren. A hint: Best not get involved with the IRA.
I’d read much about The Long Good Friday before consigning it to magnetic tape, mainly referenced in reviews that resulted from the so-called British gangster revival a few years back. Inferior movies like Gangster No. 1 or anything by Guy Ritchie. But then again, after watching TLGF, I have to say it also paved the way for good ones like Sexy Beast and Layer Cake, along with its precursors like Get Carter. For an interesting double feature, watch this one back to back with King of New York for a little compare and contrast of how the Bronx and the Brits run the streets differently. The Brit gangsters may be a bit more polite on the surface, but dammit if they don’t all come to the same end.

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