solid but too familiar
, 29 Nov 2012
Hard Boiled Sweets swaggers onto screens like its the last coca-cola in the desert. Like a dog that thinks its invented licking its own balls, whilst the all the other dogs discovered the art days ago. In presenting the UK gangster flick as something fresh and new by replacing a few metaphoric lightbulbs and a giving it a new, shiny coat of paint, the makers have fooled no one. There is virtually nothing new and nothing fresh about Hard Boiled Sweets. Its parade of witty comparisons between gangsters and boiled sweets is arch rather than funny. And the cod-Guy Ritchies stylistic ticks got up my nose. So, so far so so-so, but are their any good points?
Yes, there are. In presenting the film like its the coolest thing youll ever see this year, its certainly sets out a persuasive store. The film is well-cast with a group of actors that are permanently on the verge of becoming household names. A few of them have been around decades, yet you cant put your finger on where youve seen them. The two older gangsters, Shrewd Eddie (PAUL FREEMAN A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING) and Jimmy The Gent (PETER WIGHT CLONE) are brilliantly cast against type. Both are unusual choices to play merciless hard-men but they pull off their roles with ease. Elsewhere in the cast The Bill alumnus Rene Zagger, impresses the most as a doomed bent copper on the take. The labyrinth plot is well written and structured. It isnt hard to follow and all of the characters move around the board accordingly, all having enough room to breathe a modicum of life into their compositions. The cinematography is slick and not too gimmicky. The neon seafront and pier give the setting of Southend On Sea an otherworldly feel and its probably no mistake that the brightly light store fronts and slot arcades are evocative of colourful boiled sweets.
Hard Boiled Sweets is a confident debut with a lot of ego. It could have been better if the outcome werent so inevitable and there was a little more room for the characters to expand. Certain characters like Adrian Bowers (TEACHERS) pimp, Gerry get a bit lost in the shuffle. The running time is very slender that doesnt help matters. The whole thing feels like its setting up to a big pay off and then its all over too quickly. Admittedly it is a hard act to pull off juggling so many warring characters into the same story. Its all very well acted but ultimately, its all a bit stale. As slick and new as it all looks, any one with a pair of eyes can see that were being sold the same dog again and again. Saying that, it is a fairly rare crime caper that features more than one prominent woman.
4. 5 out of 10 A confident, ego-tastic, well-told UK gangster story with an unusual but great cast. Maybe the makers second film will be an improvement on this as theres fundamentally very little wrong with it. Its just ordinary beyond words, which is a great shame.
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