out of Five
Running time: 89
Despite a likeable central performance from Richard Coyle, this is ultimately a pointless remake and a disappointing thriller to boot, thanks to a lack of energy and an over-familiar plot.
What's it all about?
Directed by Luis Prieto, Pusher is a remake of Nicolas Winding Refn's
1996 cult thriller and stars Richard Coyle as Frank, a London drug dealer who gets into debt with his supplier Milo (Zlatko Buric, reprising his role from the original film) and has to figure out a way to come up with the cash. With the clock ticking, Frank clashes with his sidekick Tony (Bronson Webb) and tries to maintain his relationship with stripper girlfriend Flo (Agyness Deyn), but time is running out and when his last hope falls through, he's forced to take desperate measures.
Richard Coyle delivers a likeable performance as Frank, though he's entirely too friendly-faced to really convince as a drug dealer, let alone one that's capable of dishing out a beating when required. Webb is fine in the sort of role he's made an entire career out of playing (i.e. weasely sidekick – he has literally never played anything else) and Buric is suitably menacing as Milo, but it's Agyness Deyn who provides the real surprise here, turning in a convincing performance as Flo and giving the story its only hint of real emotion; consequently, her scenes with Coyle are the best thing in the film.
The main problem is that, as a remake, Pusher fails to improve on Refn's original or bring anything new to the material, emerging as just another low-level British crime thriller, jazzed up with a bit of flashy camerawork here and some fast-cutting there. As such, there's nothing here that you won't have seen before and the story eventually feels like it's just going through the motions.
On top of that, despite a certain amount of warmth in Coyle's performance, it remains impossible to care about his character, not least because his relationship with Flo is frustratingly underwritten. In fact, none of the relationships in the film are particularly convincing; for example, the emotional consequences of one particular betrayal ought to be devastating, but instead they barely make an impact.
The performances ensure that Pusher remains watchable, but otherwise this is a disappointing remake that fails to improve on the original film. Watch Refn's 1996 version instead – it's got Mads Mikkelsen in it and everything.