Movie Review by Dan Spiers
Starring: Danny Dyer, Tamer Hassan, Geoff Bell, Georgina Chapman
Director: Nick Love
THE BUSINESS, written and directed by Nick Love, is a brash, British gangster movie, set in tracksuits, on the Costa Del Crime, during the 1980’s. It follows the fortunes of a young south Londoner, Frankie (Danny Dyer) who flees Britain after attacking his mother’s abusive lover.
In order to ‘disappear’, Frankie agrees to deliver a questionable package to Malaga. In so doing, he enters a world of sports-casual organised crime. A band of ex-pat cons are funding a hedonistic lifestyle running cannabis into mainland Europe with the tacit approval of both the police and mafia.
Looking remarkably like a young Jason Donovan, Frankie finds favour with gang leader ‘Playboy’ Charlie (Tamer Hassan), but falls fowl of his psychopathic partner Sammy (Geoff Bell) whose young, nubile girlfriend, Carly (Georgina Chapman) finds him rather attractive.
Due to Charlie’s influence, Frankie is welcomed into the ‘family’ and their rather precarious professional and personal equilibrium is preserved until they decide to expand their business into the cocaine trade. Inevitably, greed ravages relationships and the law and mafia move to protect their interests.
Throughout the film the focus is on Frankie. His journey from naïve youngster to full blown dodgy geezer is a familiar one, with GOODFELLAS being a prime example, but THE BUSINESS relies on an actor who not only looks like Jason Donovan, but possesses a similar emotional range.
Frankie is clearly not intended to be a criminal mastermind, but his expression is often so vacant he appears to be retarded. Evidence of this lack of character is found in the movie’s voiceover. Although it is spoken by Frankie, it is not performed by Dyer. The irony is the resultant voiceover, as if trying to redress the balance, is an utterly ridiculous noise that appears to have come from a gravel throated, south London monster.
Love clearly has a passion for the eighties and his use of cultural signposts is really rather good. There are passing references to the Rubix Cube, Donkey Kong and a fantastic soundtrack that covers a broad soundscape from Bowie to Duran Duran and from Blondie to Frankie Goes To Hollywood. With an attention to detail worthy of a Merchant Ivory production, the costume work of Andrew Cox is particularly striking. He uses enough Sergio Tacchini, Fila and Adidas tracksuits to satisfy the most intense of polyester passions.
But this is a depressingly average British crime caper, not some brave new dawn. It promises much, but a well constructed sense of time and place is simply not enough. The script is often funny, and the performances of the cast perfectly good, but the movie suffers from a weak central performance and is more hackneyed and less interesting than it would have us believe.
If you are intent on praying at the altar of 80’s cool then why not live the dream, as opposed to watch it, and invest your time and money in your local second hand shop.