Review: Pusher – Cockney crime catastrophe

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PusherThe new film Pusher is a remake of the 1996 cult-classic about a week in the life of a small-time drug-dealer whose life is spinning dangerously out-of-control. Unfortunately this film is cut with so much undisciplined and amateurish film-school gimmickry that it is just 90 minutes of diluted and weak filmmaking with little cinematic street value.

I’ve never seen the original 1996 Pusher movie or any of its several sequels, and if the 2012 version is any indication, I have absolutely no desire to watch them. The new film is an inept story filled with uninteresting and repulsive people doing ugly unpleasant things. The only thing I cared about in this movie was when it would mercifully end.

I’m completely down with a good and gritty crime drama and I’m not necessarily concerned with having a sympathetic protagonist to relate to and root for. 1983’s Scarface is the prime example of a movie that is full of characters with no redeeming qualities and yet Al Pacino’s Tony Montana is still entertaining as an interesting anti-hero, with great dialogue and intense action sequences.

Unfortunately, the character development in Pusher is limited to selling drugs and doing drugs and most of the action takes place in nightclubs with annoying electronica music blasting – I’m assuming in an effort to numb your senses and prevent you from realizing how lame this low-budget film is. Director Luis Prieto also throws in way too many half-baked camera tricks of the kind you would expect from a first-year film student from the seventies.

PusherPusher is a United Kingdom film and is set in London, England and its suburbs. All of the characters have severe Cockney or otherwise European accents that made it difficult for my North American ears to decipher for a good portion of the movie. After you become accustomed, it’s just the hackneyed dialogue itself that’s bothersome.

Richard Coyle is Frank, the titular Pusher, who is having a really bad week that starts with his car being trashed. Things snowball in a bad direction from there as his best friend Tony (Bronson Webb) rats him out to the cops while his is trying to complete a drug deal that will allow him to pay back money owed to a Serbian drug kingpin.

The police let the uncooperative Pusher free to face the criminals he now owes money & drugs to, and Frank continues his downward trek while desperately trying to come up with the cash. He alienates his stripper girlfriend Flo (Agyness Deyn, who played Aphrodite in Clash of the Titans) beats his best friend nearly to death and even begs money from his Mum in order to save himself.

PusherIt never occurs to Frank to cut his losses and either snitch on Milo the drug lord (played by Zlatko Buric in all the Pusher movies) or just simply skip town while he’s ahead. Instead he doggedly continues to destroy his pitiful life and drag the pathetic people he knows down with him. As his life spirals out of control, so does the movie’s logic.

I’m not certain who exactly the target audience is for this film. Drug addicts? Drug dealers? It certainly isn’t a movie audience in search of decent entertainment value.  My advice for those considering seeing Pusher is to take Nancy Reagan’s advice and, “Just say, ‘No!’”   Grade: 2/10

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.