The English ‘gangster’ film genre is one that has thrived in the past 20 years despite, although mostly at the lower budget end of the British film industry. Although the history of these films is deeply seeded in the fabric of British cinema, even looking back to the 70s and 80s, and perhaps before that the idea of the London boss with his violent firm has been entrenched in certain portrayals of Britain. In the past two decades this genre came back to the forefront through Guy Ritchie, and regrettably Nick Love, and since then every knock off artist in the game has put out a cheap imitation of those initial films, and frankly The London Firm is just another pretender to what was already a somewhat auspicious throne., despite a very promising concept.
The main plot of The London Firm follows two assassins locked in the back of a lorry bound for who knows where, along with the man who hired them. However, things take a turn for the worst when they both wake up, having clearly been drugged, with their mysterious benefactor murdered. Suspicions reign supreme between the two, until they realise the vehicle is still moving, there is a camera, and a phone call pits them against each other in a dangerous game of mistrust, and shenanigans where both their lives are in jeopardy.
The London Firm, in fairness, does try to do something different with the genre. There’s an almost Saw-esque vibe to the first sixty minutes or so, as the two killers are confined to the lorry, details slowly being revealed through flashback and brief communications with the outside forces, but it quickly descends into a very average shoot out in the last twenty minutes, and it loses the little credibility it builds up during that time after a horrendously badly acted opening sequence. The ‘shocking twist’ is also wholly predictable, and just generally very uninspiring. It’s well trodden ground, and it’s just dull after a while. The dialogue is wooden, the attempt at misleading storytelling is poorly executed and pretty transparent throughout, and it never quite amounts to anything massively engaging. It doesn’t help that the acting is pretty poor, and the characters are all very one dimensional, with little-to-no real development as the film progresses. It just feels flat.
If I had to sum up The London Firm, it would be as a missed opportunity. While the genre is overdone, and frankly could do with being shelved for a while, this story actually had some real potential, and a cracking premise on paper. However, the execution is poor, and relying on lazy genre tropes means The London Firm is just another run-of-the-mill British gangster film. A genuine shame.