Rocks Reviews 5: Dead Man Running
Starring: Tamer Hussain, Danny Dyer, Curtis Jackson
Director: Alex De Rakoff
Streaming: Amazon Prime
What do you get if you cross Danny Dyer, 50 Cent, Rio Ferdinand and Omid Djalili?
No, not a platinum rap album collaboration or an experimental rave dance act miming ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ on Comic Relief, it’s the ‘British Crime-Comedy’ Dead Man Running.
Featuring a cast of beloved British character actors like Phil Davis, Clive Russell, Brenda Blethyn and Christopher Ryan — its fair to say that the plot is Absolute route one — Stoke City on a wet Wednesday night against Millwall. Ex-criminal Ski-Holiday salesman (Hussain) is told to find 100k in 24 hours or his mum will die, meaning that Hussain has to team up with his slacker co-worker and all round wideboy (Danny Dyer) to roam around the streets of London and try to come up with the money. .
Curtis Jackson is introduced with a giant ‘50’ on a building behind him (just in case you are in doubt that he’s fucking agreed to do this), and presumes to do an explainer like Margot Robbie in the bath in the Big Short only his script has been written in crayon and its solely about contraband costs. He even uses the expression ‘credit crunch’. If you can shake that disbelief out of your head for a moment and look past this, he appears to have done the filming for this in a break from an actual job. And believe me when I say this is to the film’s benefit as he is very close to the worst thing in it.
For those of you familiar with Hussain and Dyer, you’ll know that they are both arguably most famous for the film ‘The Business’ — which is actually quite a good film. Now I won’t for a second say that this is The Business because it blatantly isn’t and appears to have been filmed for £13.50 (and that was fuel for Danny Dyer’s Vespa) but Hussain and Dyer have an easy chemistry which isn’t horrible to watch. Seeing them together in front of a dodgy green screen trying to cook up another get-rich-quick-scheme is actually quite fun. They should have called this ‘OiOi Carry on up the Cockney Wideboys’ but I presume that Curtis Jackson vetoed this. Shame.
They cascade through London getting into all sorts of scrapes involving Bareknuckle fights, dog racing, cocaine trafficking, hitmaning and raving in search of the elusive cash, with varying degrees of success. The supporting actor performances in these scenes vary between entertaining (Blethyn and Davis) to questionable (Ashley Walters, John Foregham) to downright fucking offensive (Robbie G as Curtis) and fucking offensively bad (Djalili with the worst Manchester accent heard this side of the fucking Venezuelan wilderness). In hindsight, this is probably not a surprise for a film that was Exec Produced by Ferdinand and Ashley Cole.
At 92 minutes long it doesn’t really slow down much at any point, it’s just bit of explanation, “here’s what will happen squire, bish-bash-bosh Hussain and Dyer going dahn the pab for a couple of laagaahs”. There’s a few bits of tension and a few bits of malice and a few bits of humour — and the denoument of the film actually feels like a bit of a reward — like getting a free coffee after buying 10 other overpriced, shite coffees. I’m pretty sure if you watched the first 5 minutes you could work out how the film will pan out, but that’s not to say the journey isn’t enjoyable. I even laughed. Twice (once may have been because my daughter fell over in the background and told off her toy that was lying on the ground).
The thing about this film is that in the past week I have done a terrible Stallone film, a Seagal film that is criminally bad and another Seagal film that they cannot show in the Hague…and I found myself actually liking this film. I mean I would quantify it as thus — that if I had been kept captive and tied upside down by feral cannibals in a basement in the sweaty jungles of Papua New Guinea for 5 days being threatened with being eaten and whipped with acid tipped TV aerial cables, only to be rescued and fed vials of stale piss by scientists looking to use my scrotum as bait to catch Predator, I would probably be happier to be out and about having a drink.
It’s a grim life, but it is the one I have chosen. And that analogy isn’t really fair on this film. It doesn’t harm anyone, it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. Hussain and Dyer get to chat utter bollocks and stride down streets like John Wayne being rogered by a 14 foot dinosaur. Who doesn’t want that?!
In summary — I’m writing this review about 4 hours after finishing it and I can barely remember anything that happens other than Dyer and Hussain having a really good time.
And I am here for it.
Positives: Hussain and Dyer, the Posh duo in the Caravan, Blethyn and Davis scenes, it’s not a Steven Seagal film.
Negatives: It’s not a very good film despite my oratory, the speech at the start, the scenes filmed in the dark on a Motorola RAZR
If you enjoyed this, or need some way of quantifying how the hell I came to this utterly fucking baffling conclusion, find my other reviews below.