2012 Running time: 87 Certificate: 18 Rating: 3

Synopsis

The grim-and-gritty action is transferred from Denmark to London in this remake of Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn's searing crime saga. Richard Coyle stars as the titular drug dealer whose life spins out of control over the course of one nightmarish week. Model-actress Agyness Deyn joins him on the low road in this brutal journey through the criminal underworld.

Director

  • Luis Preto

Cast

  • Richard Coyle

  • Bronson Webb

  • Agyness Deyn

  • Paul Kaye

  • Neil Maskell

Review

While many will only know Danish director Nicolas WInding Refn from 2008's brilliant Bronson biopic, and the effortlessly cool Ryan Gosling vehicle Drive, he kickstarted his cinematic CV with the Pusher trilogy - a gritty, grimy view into the world of Denmark's brutal, crime-ridden drugs trade.

With the aforementioned mega-movies propelling the auteur to box-office bedazzling heights, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood jumped on the 'Scandinavian revamp' bandwagon.

Yet with Refn on-board as an exec producer, and director Luis Preto taking more than a few stylistic cues from Refn's own Drive, could this English language reinvention offer much more than a creatively barren cash-in?

It's your typical coke-dealer-boy-meets-stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold-girl love story. Small time drug pusher Frank (Coyle) starts the week as he always does - partying with friends as high as they are reckless, moving small batches of cocaine around town, and making doe eyes at his pseudo-stripper, pseudo-girlfriend Flo (Deyn).

When one deal goes catastrophically awry, he's left with just days to find £50k to pay back his menacing drug lord boss. As he becomes ever more desperate and things start spinning wildly out of control, he soon finds himself trapped in a nightmare world of his own making.

Die-hard franchise fan or native newbie, you'll find much to enjoy. Continuing Hollywood's desire to pair mainstream artists with genre-matching movies (see also: Daft Punk scoring Tron: Legacy, and Trent Reznor scoring The Social Network), Pusher has easily one of the soundtracks of the year thanks to Orbital's bass-thumping, pulsating electro mirroring the rollercoaster narrative through London's seedy, partying underbelly.

Coyle and Deyn provide the movie's much-needed heart amidst the hedonistic excesses unfolding on-screen. While Coyle commands the screen with flawed anti-heroic charm, it's his chemistry with Deyn's new franchise character that adds a truly tender, tragi-romance to the tale.

Yet while there are strong parts, the movie whole is less satisfying. Ironically, the thing truly counting against Pusher is its lack of originality - not only in the reboot of an already near-classic (and the many scenes which are almost shot-for-shot identical), but in the relocation to London. While there's a certain flashy glamour to the grim grittiness, there's little we haven't seen before - or better - in any number of Guy Ritchie, Matthew Vaughan or Nick Love movies.

Pusher may not match up to the effortlessly enviable coolness of Refn's recent work, but as a stylised, respectful homage, it captures a hefty amount of the entertainment.