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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 21 March 2015
What a fantastic film ! Dark, cool and stylish !
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on 11 July 2002
This IS a gangster movie that deserves serious recognition, putting Guy Ritchie's "classics" to shame. Very gruesome in places, Gangster #1 provides a much more frightening insight into Britsh gangland culture, albeit of the 1960s. This film is facinating, and watchable again and again. If I had to pick any fault, it would only be the weak end of an otherwise incredibily strong character throughout. Impressive performances from both Malcolm McDowell and Paul Bettany (who play the same character of different ages) make this disturbing story frighteningly believable. Great stuff, another quality one from Paul McGuigan.
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on 11 January 2015
Awesome film can't wait to watch it again
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on 3 October 2010
Gangster No.1 is a trip down memory lane with a nameless gangster, on the eve of Freddie Mays' release in 1999, reminiscing about when he was on the first rung of the ladder back in 1968. Freddie used to be the kingpin but thanks to some smooth manuevuers on the gangster's behalf, he went to jail and lost it all.

Gangster's a film of two halves, the first with our young gangster (played with incredible intensity by Paul Bettany) using his blue-eyed stare to scare people into submission and get what he want, and that's to have what Freddie has, drive what he drives, wear what he wears. He seldom speaks and when he's nary a kind word to say.

Forget realism. The direction makes it clear you're watching a live action cartoon character with Bettany spewing typical tough guy nonsense such as "This is my favourite axe" and constantly saying "Look at me eyes!!" Paul Bettany does the one trick, but he's exceptional at it.

This half is being narrated by the old gangster, Malcolm McDowell, retrospective style tinged with nostalgia, an OTT narration that help us get inside the gangster's psyche. "Axe, Gun, I'm out of the car, walking, see a car, pick it up, MOT, throw it a million miles." Even though all he really does is look at the car in question, pause, and then keep on walking.

When the movie switches to '99 we see what could be a completely different man and enter an almost completely alien movie. All the things were inside Paul Bettany's head are now said aloud and the movie enters ham-fisted territory, McDowell's performance rates roughly 4 out of 5 on the hammy scale.

Also, the flamethrower pic on the back of the DVDs enticed me, but that didn't make up even 2 seconds of a mid movie montage, the teases! The montage itself is excellent, probably should have been fleshed out, but the plot doesn't care for anything not related to Freddie Mays so it just rushes through `69 to `98.

Overall it's a very simple story about what makes a man, even thought Gangster gets everything Freddie Mays ever possessed he never gets the respect or love. It's even subtly hidden in the title.

Absolutely immense in places, it's just for every good point there's a bad point waiting around the corner to drag the film back down to `pretty good'. Doesn't warrant more than a second watch for the directorial pizzazz, like that death scene shot from the victim's perspective, nice touch.
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on 6 May 2015
Dvd is great. Delivery was very poor
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on 11 January 2010
This plays fine in the USA and it's a pretty good movie. The back of the disc say's Region B but that is a mistake. Manufacturer should correct that if they want to sell more.
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on 8 February 2016
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on 25 October 2005
Documents the rise and fall of an East-end gangster, switching between the 1960s and the 1990s. In the 1960s "gangster" (who is never named) is ably played by Paul Bettany, an excellent British rising star, where in the 1990s the role is taken up by veteran Malcolm McDowell. McDowell is one of my favourites, and it's nice to see the old guy keeping in work, even if he does increasingly looks like Sting's dad.
A hint to fans of Bettany's that like him in "Wimbledon": don't see this movie. The "gangster" character is a very violent fellow with a very unpleasant personality. He and his chums say f*** and c*** a lot, and you would probably not invite him to a family barbecue. If you do watch the movie, then don't watch the deleted scenes on the DVD. Yeeuck.
Freddy Mays is the gang boss(played by David Thewlis) who recruits "young gangster" into his gang, where the young sociopath scrubs up nice and finds a great talent for hurting people and generally being a git with no moral centre. Gangster lusts after power and money and before too long finds a plan to dispatch Freddy to prison and take his place as gang boss. That's pretty much it for plot except to say that Freddy is released from prison many years later and then he and gangster must meet for the resolution of the story.
The acting is good, from a terrific cast. I think anyone into the genre (Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa, The Limey etc) will probably enjoy it. Fans of movies like "Lock Stock..." and "Layer Cake", you won't find enough plot twists and likeable cheeky, cockney chappies in this movie.
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on 7 September 2014
It is to state the obvious to say that film making is ultimately about suspension of disbelief.

After all, an actor is basically a con man, his or her business being to convince the viewer that he or she is actually the character being portrayed on screen and not an actor pretending to be that character.

Paul Bettany, as the young Gangster No 1, succeeds triumphantly in this endeavour. He is not only entirely credible as a mobster but actually rather frightening.

So why, oh why, did the producers/director of this film not simply plaster him with ageing make-up, as they did with the David Thewlis character, to show him as his older self in the second half of the film? Replacing Bettany with Malcolm McDowell as the old Gangster No 1 was a terrible mistake. I simply could not suspend disbelief and see the younger and older versions of the lead character as one and the same person.

In addition, the ending is awfully weak.

A potentially wonderful film, ruined.
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on 2 March 2015
Although a great deal better than some of the post 'Lock Stock' rubbish out there, this film doesn't really make the grade. It's not down to the acting or production values - both are good. There's even a smattering of style evident in the direction. What lets this down is the plot. The central premise is that a psychopathic gangster (Bettany) rises to the top, but remains morally and emotionally bankrupt despite his apparent success. The looking glass to his character is the jealousy he has for his imprisoned former boss (Thewlis) who, though too a gangster, had more humanity and class than our hero could ever muster. It's an interesting enough take on the usual Brit-crime movie, but it does not sustain the movie, and by the rather grandiose emotions of the final scenes the atmosphere seems a bit thin. This and the awful miscasting of Thewlis leaves this film as a well meaning also-ran.
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