out of Five
Running time: 96
Fresh from its premiere as the closing night gala film of the Edinburgh Film Festival, The Business opens for, um, business nationwide this week. Expect poster quotes along the lines of “The Business is the business!”, because it’s a stylish, energetic and surprisingly enjoyable thriller, despite looking like the latest in a long line of Lock, Stock knock-offs.
Danny Dyer plays Frankie, a small time hood who escapes to southern Spain in the 1980s, after killing his abusive father. He quickly falls in with Charlie (Tamer Hassan), a local club owner who happens to be partners with vicious gangster Sammy (Geoff Bell). Sammy’s none too happy about the growing friendship between Charlie and Frankie, particularly when they start running drugs together. To make matters worse, Frankie finds himself falling for jealous Sammy’s flirtatious wife, Carly (Georgina Chapman).
Love directs with a real sense of style, using kinetic editing and brightly-coloured photography that makes the most of the gorgeous Spanish locations, not to mention the amusingly awful 1980s clothing.
It also has a terrific 1980s soundtrack, which Love puts to much the same use as Scorsese did with his 1960s soundtrack in Goodfellas, with similar results.
The influence of Scorsese’s 1990 masterpiece is all over The Business like a rash, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. However, it’s certainly a bit cheeky to steal lines from a film that was made after the period in which your film is set. Other films are in there too (a dash of Lock, Stock, a hint of Sexy Beast) but it’s clear where Love’s allegiances lie.
The acting is extremely good. Danny Dyer tones down his usual swaggering cockney act and gives a genuinely sympathetic performance – his relationship with Tamar Hassan’s Charlie is surprisingly touching. Bell makes a terrific villain – he appears to be a genuinely nasty piece of work. Georgina Chapman provides welcome eye-candy, as well as proving the wisdom of Frankie’s father’s advice – that he should stay away from crime, drugs and women.
In short, The Business may be flashy and ultimately rather shallow, but it’s extremely entertaining and never dips into parody, despite its derivative nature. A solid Friday night crime flick, with possible cult potential, due to the soundtrack. It also has a killer punchline that makes you seriously question whether the entire film had been building up to that joke.