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With Blood On My Hands: Pusher 2 Review

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Released from prison, a drug-dealing skinhead (with the word `Respect’ tattooed on the back of his skull) returns to his Copenhagen manor, where each well-meaning, but ill-conceived attempt to ingratiate himself with his disapproving mobster father and th

★★★★

Following a mixed reception for Bleeder and Fear X, Dane Nicolas Winding Refn returns to the simmering tensions of the Vesterbro underworld for this uncompromising sequel that is more than a match for any recent Britcrime offering. Tonny was only a secondary character in 1996’s Pusher, which recalled the neighbourhood dramas of John Cassavetes and Martin Scorsese with its insistent intensity and handheld realism. But here he becomes the story, as he tries to prove that he has what its takes to become a `made man'.

As before, the breakneck pace, the seething sense of menace and the unflinching attitude to sex, drugs and violence coagulate into a nastily authentic take on the seediness and venality of modern villainy. But while the car thefts and scag deals give the action some gangsterly guts, this is very much a psychological study of a serial loser's bid to gain respect from both his hoodlum father (Lief Sylvester Petersen) and the coke-snorting mother of his baby (Anne Sorensen), with Mads Mikkelsen giving another compelling performance, as Tonny veers between imbecilic naiveté, harmless affability and latent brutality, as he seeks to find a niche in a world he fetishises, but never understands.

Tough, threatening and credible insight into the mind and milieu of the petty hood, that makes the forthcoming I Am the Angel of Death: Pusher III (which was shot back-to-back) a must-see.