Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Nemesis: Crusty Old British Gangsters

A mobster like John Morgan has so many enemies, he can’t be bothered to worry about a washed-out alcoholic copper like Frank Conway. However, he will have worry about enemies closer to home—and perhaps some previously unknown to him in James Crow’s Nemesis, which releases this Friday on VOD.

Morgan presents himself as a philanthropist, but his money is dirty. Unfortunately, neither Conway or his cop father before him could ever get any evidence to stick on him. The best Conway can do is drunkenly crash Morgan’s coming home party. All Conway gets for his efforts is a suspension, but Morgan is secretly concerned someone tipped off the cop regarding his return to the UK. He suspects his thuggish brother Richard, who resents his brother’s greater success in organized crime. Richard Morgan will be a guest at his brother’s dinner party, but it takes a potentially lethal turn when it turns into a home invasion-hostage crisis.

So, what kind of person would be rash enough to take connected kingpin like Morgan hostage? That will be the whole surprise, or surprises. They are actually memorably dark and twisty. In fact, the captive dinner party section is quite tense and memorable. It just takes half the film’s run-time to get there.

is a grubby overachiever that isn’t ashamed of its grunginess. Billy Morgan is terrific as the steely silver-haired John Morgan. He definitely has a Michael Caine-ish pugnaciousness going on. Frank Harper brings similarly grizzled bluster as his bitter brother Richard. A notable standout, Jeanine Nerissa Sothcott is entertainingly flamboyant and catty as Sadie Morgan, the gangster’s cougar-trophy wife.

Plus, Nicky Moran and Ricky Grover have some surprisingly interesting and well-turned scenes together as Conway and his bartender, Billy. Julian Glover (a villain in
The Empire Strikes Back, For Your Eyes Only, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) is also nice to see turning up as Morgan’s lawyer, Sebastian, but despite his prominence in press materials, he only appears in the film for a minute or two.

Adam Stephen Kelly’s screenplay is clever and the cast has plenty of swagger, but the film is definitely exploitative, in ways that would be spoilery to explain. Still, its grit deserves respect. Recommended for fans of crusty old British gangster films like
Lords of London and 44 Inch Chest, Nemesis releases Friday (7/30) on VOD platforms.