Liam Rudden: Gangster movie recasts The Bill stars as kings of crime

THERE'S little doubt in my mind that the accolade of Greatest Ever British Gangster Flick belongs to The Long Good Friday.

Friday, 18th January 2019, 3:37 pm
Updated Friday, 18th January 2019, 3:38 pm
Mark Wingett
Mark Wingett

From the moody soundtrack to the bleak camera angles and the compelling performances of Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, supported by a plethora of well kent faces (including a very young Pierce Brosnan who, if I remember correctly didn’t have a word to utter despite his film-stealing final scene), it excels .

There have been many attempts to capture London’s gangland exploits in movies since, the latest being King of Crime, released on DVD earlier this week.

It has been described as ‘2018’s most modern gangster thriller’ and like The Long Good Friday boasts a cast made up familiar faces.

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When Marcus King, Britain’s most notorious cyber-criminal, finds himself at the mercy of some extremists, he knows it’s time to settle some old scores, play one of the biggest scams of his life, and defeat the terrorists.

It’s just a question of whether he can manoeuvre his foot soldiers, protect his wife and decipher some double-crossing before he’s safe in the land of milk and honey.

Starring as Marcus King is Mark Wingett, best known to most these days for his long-running role in the TV police drama The Bill - he played Jim Carver for a 21 year stint in the series from 1984 to 2005.

In King of Crime he is reunited with another Sun Hill favourite, Christopher Ellison who played Carver’s CID boss DCI Frank Burnside. Ellison, in what is basically a glorified cameo, plays a nicely sinister ‘butler’ in the film.

It’s great seeing the pair of them working together again and they’re joined in director Matt Gambell’s often violent romp by one-time Emmerdale leading lady Claire King who positively glories in her murderous role.

Focussing on cyber-crime and terrorism, two of the most prevalent issues of today, Linda Dunscombe’s script caused Gambell to observe it’s a “modern crime-thriller, with a love and awareness of the genre”.

There’s certainly a familiarity to it as it powers through a gory and sometimes outrageous plot with numerous stock characters peopling the London underworld of the King family.

Despite its claim to be a ‘modern crime-thriller’ I thoroughly enjoyed my sneak preview of King of Crime for quite the opposite reason - I found it to be a good old-fashioned British gangster movie with the odd bloodbath and a few twists and turns along the way.

All the cast attack their roles with gusto and the pace seldom falters.

Even the clichés - and there are a few it has to be said - just add to the charm of the piece.

So, if homegrown thrillers are your thing, make sure you take the chance to watch King of Crime if you get one, although fans of The Bill will be in for a shock, Wingett and Ellison play very different characters to those they’re known for in the much missed ITV cop show.