Hard Boiled Sweets (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/03/2012

One out of Five stars
Running time: 84 mins

To borrow Hard Boiled Sweets' own analogy, the packaging is attractive, but the contents are less than satisfying, thanks to some dodgy performances, a surfeit of unlikeable characters and a script that's both lazy and over familiar.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by David LG Hughes, Hard Boiled Sweets is an attempt at a British film noir (hence the first part of the title) that replaces the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas with, um, Southend-on-Sea. The plot, such as it is, revolves around a variety of gangsters (Paul Freeman as Shrewd Eddie, Peter Wight as Jimmy The Gent), ex-cons (Scot Williams as Johnny), hookers (Laura Greenwood as Delta, Ty Glaser as hooker-turned-gangster-wife Porsche), pimps (Adrian Bower as “Daddy”) and assorted henchmen and hangers-on (Philip Barantini and Nathaniel Martello-White) all trying to screw each other over for the time-honoured suitcase full of money.

The Bad
The conceit of the title extends to the character introductions, which assigns everyone a sweet, so Porsche is The Sherbert Lemon (“the sweet that’s really tasty and tart”), Jimmy The Gent is The Mint Imperial and so on, but that's where the concept ends and it fails to do anything interesting with that idea once the introductions are over.

The acting is something of a pick and mix bag, to say the least: Glaser is decent as Porsche and Freeman is clearly enjoying himself as Eddie (never missing an opportunity to call someone a “slaaaaaag”), while Bower gets some good lines and Greenwood has a certain appealing pulchritude as Delta, but perennial nearly-man Williams is his usual charisma-free self as Johnny, and Barantini is just plain annoying as Dean. A bigger problem is that none of the characters are remotely likeable, so it's impossible to know which, if any of them, you're meant to be rooting for.

The Worse
On top of that, the script is full of all the usual British gangster clichés and dialogue, and feels over familiar at every turn, while failing to utilise its potentially interesting Southend location other than for the film's only decent gag – the fact that throwing someone off the end of the pier requires a 1.3 mile walk. That said, the cinematography is appropriately glossy and colourful, though that's not really enough to save the film.

Worth seeing?
Frankly, no. This is a dismal British gangster flick that's let down by a lazy script and deeply unappealing characters. If it was an actual hard boiled sweet you would probably spit it out before the end.

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Content updated: 21/08/2018 17:05

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