Essex Boys Review

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Three bodies are found in a Range Rover, riddled with gunshot wounds. As the police investigate, they uncover a group of gangsters, and are taken through the story by Billy, a young acolyte of the group.


While his previous attempts at playing a bad guy in GoldenEye and Patriot Games were somewhat lacklustre, Sean Bean finally spits some serious venom in this otherwise below-average British gangster thriller that takes as its starting point a true event -- the police discovery of a Range Rover in an Essex wood containing three dead bodies. The rest of the film is complete fiction, although as the clichés pile up, one can't help thinking that the true story of how the gunshot-riddled bodies got there would have made a more interesting, and definitely more original, movie.

As with The Usual Suspects - which one assumes writers Winsor and Pope have seen a few times since they borrow so many plot devices from it - the film begins three-quarters of the way into the story with the car full of bloody corpses, then zips back in time to a few weeks before, as young Billy (Creed-Miles) fills us in on the events leading up to the bloodbath. He could have saved everyone time by instructing us to go home and watch GoodFellas instead, as the "young man goes to work for criminals, gets sucked in, has to deal with the group's resident psycho, tries to get out before it's too late" plot unfolds.

In the end, the story is forgettable, occasionally laughable (Billy thinks the main advantage of hanging around with these criminals is that he doesn't have to queue for Essex nightclubs anymore), and so convoluted that it's hard to believe that even the characters know who they're supposed to be double-crossing at any one time.

Strong performances from Bean as loose cannon Jason, Alex Kingston as his beautiful wife and Tom Wilkinson as the businessman/criminal notwithstanding, this is just another disappointing British film.