Once Upon A Time In London

Do you like the idea of a gangster movie, but find them too exciting, too violent, too sensational? Have I got the movie for you.

It’s based on real-life rival mobsters in London and my #1 takeaway from the film is: organized crime in London is boring as shit.

Jack “Spot” Comer (Terry Stone) and Billy Hill (Leo Gregory) are whiny little school yard boys. Comer elbowed out whoever was there before him and he can’t fucking believe that his own little protegee Billy Hill would do the same to him. So they piss and moan and act like bookmaking and racketeering are a god-given rights.

Old-timey Brit gangsters never had the benefit of seeing a Quentin Tarantino film. Or a Guy Ritchie one. So they basically have 2 moves: punching, and stabbing. Neither ever kills, so there’s just a lot of walking wounded, with dirty bandages on display (the NHS must not have been set up yet). They just keep beating each other up like they’re little kids, and they always live to bore me another day. It’s cruel.

Meanwhile, the newspapers treat the mob bosses like they’re celebrities. Everyone knows the deal and I guess there weren’t any police officers or laws to get in their way. No one seemed to really enjoy the lives they made; there wasn’t a lot of extravagance on display or good times to be had. Everyone was too busy getting blood stains out of white undershirts I guess.

The montages are brutal, the violence is half-baked, the power struggle is muted and uninteresting, and perhaps worst of all: the pauses. When gangsters aren’t punching their way down the street, they’re thinking deep thoughts. We aren’t privy to them but gosh the camera loves to dwell on quiet introspection. One such scene, taking place in a courtroom, feels like it goes on forever. Will it ever end? Not soon enough.

Real life isn’t all mink coats and gold chains and horse heads in bed. Sometimes it’s downright boring, just two blokes applying for the same job, even if that job is extortion. But the thing is, we can choose not to make movies out of uninteresting situations. Assuming you have stamps, please send director Simon Rumley a postcard saying just that.

5 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time In London

  1. The Whitechapel Whelk

    I live in the East End of London and my grandparents would talk of Jack Spot, Billy Hill, and the Kray brothers. None of their reminiscences mentions appalling acting and comic-book violence though πŸ˜€
    PS: I sat through ten minutes of this dross and then switched over to, Say Yes To The Dress.

    Liked by 1 person


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