The Big I Am review (DVD)

The Big I Am promised to be a straight-up British gangster film, but pulls as much punch as a foam hand. Sure, it's got enough elements in it to make it identifiable as a gangster flick: sharp suits, guns, blood, drugs, and plenty of swearing (one character even has a penchant for the word 'c*nt'), but they do not all add up to make something exciting nor hard-hitting. Instead, there's a mishmash of decency in performances — strong for the most part but a few actors let the side down — a recycled story and shoddy direction.

The film details 24 hours in the life of small-time crook Skinner (Gregory), who is given the reigns to a criminal empire and a lucrative human trafficking operation after its leader, Barber (Regan) faces arrest. Barber's impending incarceration means that he'd have to give the keys to the underworld to a “friendly” face, but instead he entrusts Skinner, a stranger, after seeing potential and deciding to give him his big break in all things unlawful, turning him from an in-debt nobody to a suited and booted crime king in an instant. As his life is turned upside down, a single day chronicles Skinner's highs and lows.

Far more interesting than the film itself is the story behind its production. I interviewed star and producer Robert Fucilla, which you can find linked up below (who gave one of the better performances of the film, by the way), and during photography it was just one disaster after another, from costs spiraling out of control to a rather dysfunctional Michael Madsen.

The script is solid but the amateur look of the direction sticks out. There are occasions where characters are smacked in the face and pistol-whipped, but they are quite possibly the worst acts of violence ever captured on film. The blows miss by about three feet, so why director Nic Auerbach didn't see fit to A. reshoot until it actually looked decent, let alone good, B. edit the hell out of it, or C. cut it altogether, is beyond me.

Speaking of film, that is what the movie was shot on, but it looks quite the opposite, as if shot cheaply on video — there's so much grain that looks digital rather than film.

If you're looking for a good old British gangster film, this isn't it. It's admirable that a film even exists given how troubled the production was, but as a finished product it's nothing to write home about.

EXTRAS ★ Trailers for other films. Why on earth did nobody document the production?! It sounds like it would have been fantastic! Just click here for our interview to see why!

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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