Dir: Luis Prieto | Cast: Richard Coyle, Agyness Deyn, Zlatco Buric, Neil Maskell, Bronson Webb | UK Drama 87mins
Quite why Luis Prieto decided on this remake of the far superior original remains a mystery. Usually, it is either because the previous version was in another language and the story needs must be shared to a wider audience, as in The Departed or Matchstick Men or, it’s an oldie that someone in their wisdom feels can be improved upon, such as the forthcoming Carrie and recent Total Recall.
However, in all instances, there is a substantial boost to the budget to make it all worthwhile. However, in this instance, what was originally a low-budget Danish affair becomes a low-budget British one, to no discernable improvement.
Richard Coyle is perhaps best known, in the UK at least, for his broad comedy in the sitcom Coupling. However, here he turns on the masterfully brutal and with great aplomb. He is coupled this time with erstwhile top model, Agyness Deyn, who also acquits herself very well, although one suspects that she will be hard pressed to find many lead roles; her looks I fear, will do her few favours in this industry. There are some nice turns by Zlatco Buric and Neil Maskell, but also some very ill-judged ones too and the dialogue is oddly stilted in the opening scenes. The writer, Matthew Read is Producer on a prodigious quantity of TV drama, but has written very little and it shows in his adaptation of Nicolas Winding Refn’s original script.
The original 1996 Pusher, which had real verve, energy and menace, is this time directed by relative newcomer, Luis Prieto; Refn credited solely as Executive Producer on an oddity. As intimated, it isn’t quite the same story, there are several deviations as the end credits verify, but it still doesn’t make for a better film. My favourite shot of the original is missing, as is the very real inbuilt claustrophobia and Prieto makes a great many of what one can only assume are ‘homages’ to films like Taxi Driver, Trainspotting and Requiem For A Dream.
It’s all very well borrowing from the best, but one could at least disguise, subvert, or even add to those masters that have gone before and thus create the New. The storyline; of a man needing money to pay off bad men who might otherwise do mischief with his limbs/life/girlfriend if he doesn’t find cash, like, ‘yesterday’, is a very well-trodden one, so it really needed to have something exceptional done with it to make the pay off… pay off. It hasn’t (up)dated well. AT.
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