Director Philip Barantini has for his debut feature got himself some very experienced actors in Craig Fairbrass and Robert Glenister for a London based gangster film based on a script from another experienced actor (who also has a role in the film) George Russo co- written with established writer/director Greg Hall.

Eddie Franks (Craig Fairbrass) is released from jail after ten years, looking to go straight and not end up back in. A major step towards this is getting the family pub rejuvenated having been left to turn into a cobwebby establishment of locals, strippers and villains by his brother Sean (George Russo).

Sean is in debt to local gangster Roy Garret (Robert Glenister) whose gang seem to have the run of the place until Eddie decides enough is enough. It’s a violent act that clears up any ambiguity about the direction that Eddie now headed even as they do the pub up and it becomes a successful business.

Eddie’s also trying to reach out to his daughter Chloe (Izuka Hoyle) with whom he has virtually lost contact and she any confidence in him as a father figure or even a presence in her life. That she is also a victim of violence oil the cogs in Eddie’s mind as it turns towards in the inevitable decisions and direction.

There’s a very familiar set of themes running through Villain and while it doesn’t step to far away from the tropes of these types of films, there’s a little more depth of emotion here that gives the actors more room to work in.

The writers have slanted towards blood family loyalty and ties rather the usual gangster code of omerta. That gives the viewer more of an emotional investment in the characters as Eddie has to deal with brother and daughter, so Garret has his psychopathic brother Jonny (Tomi May) to handle, and we see him with family in a domestic context. It’s not totally original but it is refreshing to see this perspective.

A far as the acting goes this sort of thing is bread and butter for Russo, who is ok though there’s not much to like about Sean, and Glenister play’s it ironing board straight as head nasty. Hoyle is convincing as a troubled vulnerable character who could do with help but will damn well get on with it is not forthcoming. Fairbrass as with Russo hasn’t strayed too far from the path with Eddie however he does develop well the dilemma that he is in and you get an inkling of the conflicting emotions that he's dealing with.

It’s a sturdy debut from Barantini though the film does falter over the pacing and the promising start falls away as the requisite bully boys and violence are introduced. The latter is not that bad just numbly inevitable which is a shame as there’s a very good story here that just gets buried.