Monday, October 26, 2015

The London Firm: Two Hitman and a Lorry Full of Trouble

They will be known as “A” and “B,” which is much simpler than Mr. Blonde and Mr. Pink. They are still just as lethal, if not more so. They are straight-up hitmen, but their latest job was a set-up from the get-go. The question will be who is playing whom in Neil Horner’s The London Firm (trailer here), which releases today in the UK on DVD and VOD.

A has one rule: no killing women or children. Usually, that leaves him plenty of scummy targets to safely accept, but it complicated his last job for the Laurence Tierney-esque Mr. Fines. However, all will be forgiven if he takes an extra special assignment. The first drawback will be working with the young and brash B, whose style rubs A the wrong way. The second drawback is the required transportation: the back of mini tractor-lorry. This turns out to be a real downside when A and B wake up in the back of the truck to find their employment broker murdered with B’s glossy magazine. It seems someone wants something from one of the hitmen—and they aim to get it.

Of course, multiple twists ensue, some of which are fairly clever. It also takes some surprisingly dark turns, but that is sort of necessary to force certain characters’ hands. The confined lorry setting creates a real rats-in-a-trap kind of atmosphere, but Horner cuts away to the femme fatale henchwoman in charge of the operation frequently enough so the audience does not feel trapped with them. In fact, the jumping around is a little herky-jerky in spots, but not overly distractingly so.

Frankly, it all works pretty well as a gritty noir, in good measure thanks to the under-heralded Vincent Regan. He is the sort of actor’s actor you will see in big films like 300, but then goes back to punching the clock with recurring or guest-starring work on British television. He has the perfect bloodshot look and world-weary bearing for a principled antihero like A. Stephen Marcus and Robert Cavanah chew all kinds of scenery as Mr. Fines, and his poker rival, Mr. Hyde. Seb Castang is pretty dashed annoying as B, but that is how he is supposed to be. However, the absence of Mem Ferda in a gangster film like this is absolutely baffling.

If you enjoy gritty London-based noirs, like London Boulevard, 44 Inch Chest, and the Pusher remake, than London Firm delivers more of what you like. It is also a good example why Regan has worked so steadily since the early 1990s. A pleasantly overachieving little hitman morality play, The London Firm is recommended for thriller fans who happen to be in the UK, where it releases today (10/26) on DVD and VOD.