Review, Hollywood

Jan 07, 2016 Review, Hollywood

In the twenty five years since Peter Medak directed Gary and Martin Kemp in The Krays, there has been no further filmic stabs at the story of those reprehensible East End rascals. Until this year that is, when three of them turned up at once. The Fall of the Krays is a sequel to the straight-to-DVD feature Rise of the Krays. Rise surpassed expectations when released in May and went on to become the fastest selling DVD debut in the country, resulting in its swift sequel being granted a limited theatrical run.

Whether or not Rise and Fall were conjured to cash in on the concurrent Tom Hardy starring Legend is anyone’s guess but as stand-alone features they are monotonous mock jobs that whither in the shadow of their scholarly foil. Picking up with the twins at the peak of their criminal powers, The Fall of the Krays unravels with a make-shift Tarantino set up, enthused with 60s pop ditties, requisite geezer dialect, brash action and a sprightly demeanour that make it initially hard to shun. But flaws surface in the form of minimal spendthrift sets, derivative writing and plastic performances, all of which combine for a bog-standard telling.

Boasting the clichés and hallmarks of minor Brit crime flicks like Rise of the Foot Soldiers and Essex Boys, the story charts obvious ground in an unimaginative manner and with a lack of visual flair or character complexity/ conflict to needle imperative intrigue. Where probing the twins’ nuances might have gone some way to charter fresh terrain and unravel profounder motives for their qualms and actions, Director Zackary Adler delivers generic geezer exploits previously done better by the likes of Nick Love and 90s Guy Ritchie. Feeble moments where deals go awry and cockney gits explode into quasi-apocalyptic Peggy Mitchell-mega –miffs, fail to fuse due to overly rigid structuring, but there is still some fun to be had.

Fall is leaner, glossier and slightly more captivating than its cumbersome predecessor. The Krays coming undone clearly makes for more compelling viewing than simply watching their egos swell as they craft their empire and gradually grow into power, but the brothers lack the debonair diplomacy of the American gangsters that graced the work of Scorsese. Warring clans quarrel and the twins infiltrate stateside operations using mafia links. The antics of right hand man Dickie Baker (Phil Dunster) and his relationship with one of the Krays’ hostesses is explored by way of an irking subplot. Meanwhile other gang members make appearances along with the obligatory Jack The Hat Mcvitie (Ian Kier Attard).

Infamous tiffs with the Richardsons’ South London syndicate, learning how the brothers wavered their shares in a Heathrow parking racket and sacrificed gaming operations reveals an alternative side to the generic cockney blithering that’s slightly more interesting (but less vibrant) than the renegade punching and cussing we’ve heard a thousand times, delivered with greater conviction and grown accustomed to. In terms of performances: Simon Cotton (Ronnie) and Kevin Leslie (Reggie) muster stock, shout or mumble cockney rogues. Some of the tense torture scenes are finely crafted, complimented by an unsettled, throbbing score and interesting plot twists in the final third but it merely concludes the story rather than takes it anywhere interesting. Ultimately the ham acting and a general lack of inventiveness hinder this sequel the most, as it did with more crippling effect, to its tedious predecessor.

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