Sacha Bennett (director)
Kaleidoscope Enterntainment (studio)
17 April 2017 (released)
18 April 2017
Yet more 'gangster' stuff to add to this ever increasingly popular genre and clearly there is a big market for this type of badass Cockney films. Wiz-kid producer Jonathan Sothcott (who some have seen as a latter day Harry Allan Towers) obviously has no reason to extinguish the flame. This film is a sequel to We Still Kill the Old Way (made two years earlier) and was apparently inspired by 'the audacious Hatton Garden heist of 2015'.
Ian Ogilvy plays the lead part of Richie Archer, a gangster with a heart who is much of the old school (we can only assume his knowledge of Mark Twain must have been gleaned from an earlier stretch). Archer is a bit of a Robin Hood (do such people really exist?) and gets double crossed by an unscrupulous banker (the biggest crooks in the world though they can get away with it). Banker magnet Sir Edward is played by Julian Glover, a part that looks as if it involved a day and a half's work for the veteran actor. Whilst robbing the bank's vaults to retrieve money he has previously asked Sir to return to the people it rightly belongs to, the Archer gang are arrested in flagranti by a team of bent coppers who are in the bankers employ. Seconds later (bypassing a courtroom scene thus saving considerable expenditure) Richie and his gang of two old mates are banged up. Female Governor Pryce (Tanya Banks) is as you can expect... well, she ain't gonna be no angel is she? Really, she deserves all that’s coming to her.
No sooner are the lads banged up when Governor Pryce experiences a bit of underhanded nastiness administered by a half blind assassin Blind Harry (Linal Haft)… this is to get Richie's utterly detested rival and arch enemy Vic Farrow (Billy Murray) transferred to the prison where the Archer gang are. In a subplot, inmate George Briggs (Patrick Bergin), who’s a friend of Richie, seeks compassionate leave in order to see his dying wife but Pryce won’t grant it. The shit soon hits the fan when Farrow arrives, hell-bent on setting old scores with Richie. The reason why Farrow was imprisoned in the first place was because Richie, with the aid of yet another bent copper named Jack Houghton (Nicky Henson), set him up. Truth be told, the psychotic Farrow belongs behind bars for everyone's benefit on the outside. A very nasty war of nerves ensues as Farrow leaves no stone unturned to see Richie dead. As if Richie and his gang don’t have their hands full enough warding off pure evil, Richie also has to look after the emotional well-being of his dame Lizzie (Lysette Anthony) while ensuring that his daughter, who resides in a villa in Spain, gets out of the building double-quick if she doesn’t want to fall victim to Farrow’s network of murder and intimidation…
The majority of the action takes place in prison (which resembles more of a detention centre in reality) though this seems a prison where we encounter no homo-gang rapes, Muslim extremism corners or any other ethnical inmates… some black prisoners with minor parts are the exception. Clearly, scriptwriters Sothcott, Sacha Bennett (who has also a brief cameo) and Simon Cluett are not familiar with ultra-violent American prison drama OZ! The photography, it must be said, is pretty static and obviously with a film like this much would rely on the acting skills, as mentioned by director Sacha Bennett. Veteran Ian Ogilvy, who has been acting since the early 60's, does a fine job of playing a gangster though in typical Ogilvy manner a suave demeanor prevails even here. Well, he is an ole Etonian after all. At the other end of the spectrum we see Bill Murray who is 'the real McCoy' - a genuine East End boy from Forest Gate. Really, it must have been about as difficult for him to play this plum part baddie as it would be for Sir John Gielgud rattle off a Shakespearian soliloquy. Of course, Murray is also in real life the co-director of yet another film company with this film’s producer Jonathon Sothcott. Nice to see another public schoolboy slumming it as well is Nicky Henson, who here is re-united with Ogilvy after nearly fifty years when they were young Roundheads in Michael Reeve’s seminal Witchfinder General. Patrick Bergin is a bit of a revelation, gravitas wise, as was James Fox on a different and considerably larger level in Donald Cammell's near brilliant 1970 cult flick Performance.
WE STILL STEAL THE OLD WAY is not altogether without merit if that genre is your cuppa Rosie and the finale is a joy to watch (as is the elaborately staged prison break sequence!). Did the ball really get rolling with The Long Good Friday, although Richard Burton was a combination of those beloved East icons Reggie and Ronnie as far back as 1970 in Villain. Mellis and Scinto also had a mega hit with Sexy Beast not too long ago.