Top positive review
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Snarky, savvy Britcrime at its best
on 2 June 2014
Hard Boiled Sweets proves that you don’t need Ray Winstone or Guy Ritchie to make a cracking modern British gangster movie. It both fulfils and subverts all the typical tropes of the genre; the corrupt cop, the recently-released con; the creepy pimp and his flinch-eyed tribe of brood mares; the dangle of a cash stash ripe for the taking; old school Cockney boys on their last legs (but with life left in the old dog yet) and spunky young guns jockeying to replace them.
Add a dash of estuary Essex and a cracking script, full of knowing wit and smart-ass sardonic snipes and you have a very clever little film, one which veers just the right side of caricature. It pays homage to all the right moments, and then creates a few original splashes of its own. Like the slight logistical issue when the moment comes to chuck a scumbag off the end of Southend Pier… except that someone didn’t check the tides. Priceless.
A true ensemble piece, Hard Boiled Sweets is full of sharply-drawn characters who get precious little screen time apiece but still emerge as interesting individuals beyond the usual stereotypes. The trophy blonde looks like a victim, wearing her hair to disguise her bruises, but every man she meets is a potential opportunity, a tool to be used. The enforcer tasked with collecting the cash and then delivering the old boy for his final encounter drops the street speak to admit he’s fretting about who may be playing with his girl while he’s away. The bent copper, desperate to raise cash… to pay for another round of IVF to satisfy his baby-crazed missus. They’re all set on a collision course, with trajectories which inevitably intersect in a suitably surprising and satisfyingly blood-splattered finale.
We didn’t know any of the actors or the writer/director before watching this, but will look out for more from him in the future. Hard Boiled Sweets proves that you can do something fresh, new and savvy in the same-old scenario: it’s a traditional East End bad boy boogie but done proper for the 21st century.
The special features are interesting too; not so much the ‘making of’, but the short film which shows an earlier version of several of the scenes – demonstrating just how far a film evolves during its pre-production.