Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Marcus Warren's British-based gangster thriller, THE HEAVY, hits the Netflix streaming source

Gary Stretch -- a Lancashire lad who went on to become a well-known (in Britain) boxer, then a model and now an actor -- is a guy it turns out we've seen a few times already (Savages, Alexander) but had not noticed. There's no way you can't notice Stretch in THE HEAVY -- a crime thriller set alternately and interestingly in the world of expensive art and a rather scuzzy gangland element (they turn out to have much in common) -- because he's the star. Just who is the titular "heavy"? That's up for grabs, but it could be anyone from the rogue cop (played nastily by Vinnie Jones) to the art/crime boss (essayed smoothly by Stephen Rea) to the fellow who's about to run for British Prime Minister (played close-to-the-vest by Adrian Paul), as the estranged brother of our Mr. Stretch.

If we're speaking solely in moral terms, the heaviest fellow in the bunch is clearly our "anti-hero," Boots (Mr. Stretch's role) above, recently out of prison and now working the that naughty art-and-crime kingpin, who appears to have given his "enforcer" one lulu of a job. What it is we don't know, but it's important and it concerns an apartment occupied by the lovely Shannyn Sossamon (below).

The movie moves back and forth in time and location, introducing us along the way to the brother's parents (Jean Marsh and Christopher Lee, the latter pictured below with his "son"), involving us some sleazy drug dealings, and letting us watch that nasty cop take out his sadistic whims on various characters he meets along the way.

One of those characters is the kingpin's very cute right-hand-man, below, played by the smooth and sexy (but evidently rather unpleasant) singer/actor Lee Ryan. The plot here is pleasantly convoluted -- you'll have some fun following it -- even if it sometimes gives off an air of being hastily cobbled together. The dialog is generally serviceable, though in one scene between Jones and Rea, it does get a bit much: You'll want to ask the writer/director Marcus Warren what the hell he was going for here. Warren's direction is relatively fast-paced and sleek, and he gets good performances from his whole cast. (Why not? Most of them are uber-professionals.)

There is a rather limited budget on view, so what ought to be a large crowd scene is shot with a handful of extras. Still, there is enough suspense, surprise and thrills to carry most intelligent audiences along, and the ending, together with the reason for it, is quite something. Villain-wise, it unmasks the heavy, gives added moral weight to the decision of the hero, while simultaneously making us understand why we hate so many politicians.

The Heavy, a better-than-average time-waster, is available now via Netflix streaming, but can also be found on DVD via Amazon and perhaps other sources, too.

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