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Jun 3, 2007

Drum Solo

Director: Sacha Bennett
Starring: Ian Ogilvy

Settling very comfortably into the modern trend of gritty gangster movies, We Still Kill the Old Way dives into the idea that everything changes, and not always for the better. A small group of aged gangsters return to their hometown neighborhood for a funeral, discovering that the local punks running the streets now have none of the character, rules, or principles that the old guard claimed to. With the police not taking a stand, the retirees decide to take matters into their own hands.

The plot is reasonable, the characters more than single-minded instruments of vengeance, and the comedy is funny without tipping into camp. Admittedly I know very little about English street gangs, but the opposition characters as presented were believable with differing motives, varying morality, and breaking points. There is no question that our protagonists are bad men, but it's easy to sit back and cheer as they work to dismantle a gang of worse people, returning to a place they once knew but are now strangers in.

While Ian Ogilvy's Richtie Archer is undoubtedly the main focus, his friends have a very appreciable effect and role in the film they aren't just window-dressings that let us see how smart the main character is, as I've seen in other such movies. Their camaraderie feels real, and it seems the characters (eventually) genuinely enjoy working together once again.

I watched this back-to-back with its sequel, We Still Steal the Old Way, and vastly prefer this one to its successor, both on the strength of the characters and realism of the plot. The second showed more of Ritchie's emotional flaws which was a welcome development, but most other aspects of the film paled in comparison.

Watch this If: You enjoy British crime dramas, revenge films, or you want to relive youthful glory days
Avoid this If: You dislike wisecracking lead men or want to avoid violent imagery

Rating: 4 / 5 (Would gladly watch again)

More Information: Trailer, Wikipedia, IMDB,


Sep 16, 2002

A sophomoric revenge fantasy, nothing more. Good for one watch, but with no depth. The protagonist (Archer) is exactly as deep as Danny Ocean, that is, the cool protagonist who's always in control of the situation and just slightly larger than life. The other characters are developed even less. Archer's comrades? I can't remember a single one of their names, maybe because their roles were "guy with explosive temper" and "guy with" (actually as I'm typing this, I forget what identifying characteristics the other guys might have had). The detective trying to rein in our righteous avenger? I think she actually engaged with Archer two, three times total, to no effect.

Just to make sure we don't feel bad for any of the bad guys who received their well-earned torture and/or murder in due course, the main antagonist is even more one-dimensional than the protagonist: He is never once seen doing anything but hurting people in the most outrageously over-the-top ways, or ordering his goons to do the same. I mean usually in these movies we at least see them calling their mum at some point, just to remind us that they're technically a human being. But nope, not this time. Makes it all the easier to enjoy watching the violence inflicted on him and his. I also can't help pointing out just how drawn-out the scene where the good guys torture two gang members they kidnapped was. Another movie might have handled that in less than five seconds - bad guys get bagged, it is implied that the good guys will get some info out of them that advances the plot - but here we get something like ten minutes of bad people having bad things done to them. I see no purpose for this except to satisfy the audience's bloodlust.

The writing and acting was weak and the camera work was nothing to write home about either. The only scene I can actually remember, cinematography-wise, is the first encounter between the straight-and-narrow detective and our righteous avenger protagonist. The camera circling around the two as they carry out completely banal, forgettable action movie dialogue was nothing but laughable. I honestly wonder if that scene was intended as parody.

2/5, no hard feelings but will definitely not be watching again

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