The Krays: Dead Man Walking – Film Review
Director: Richard John Taylor
Cast: Rita Simons, Josh Myers, Guy Henry
by Roger Crow
It’s almost 30 years since the Kemp brothers played London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie. Though Peter Medak’s film had its moments, The Krays proved arguably less entertaining than Legend, the 2015 Tom Hardy drama in which he proved mesmerising in both roles. Boasting a huge budget, star talent and the muscle of Brian (LA Confidential) Helgeland in the director’s chair, it was a piece of stunt casting that paid off.
I’m guessing the latest take on the story, or one of them, cost less than Legend’s catering budget, but while The Krays: Dead Man Walking is obviously a modest production, it’s not without its high points.
Terrific portentous opening titles and score (by Aztec Camera and The Smiths veteran Craig Gannon); a magnificent performance by EastEnder Rita Simons, and the ever reliable Guy Henry chewing every scene he’s in as Lord Boothby. (Sadly he’s not in it enough, so I’m hoping for a sequel featuring more of the shady character).
“Moody and violent”
It centres on the Krays as they break Frank ‘The Mad Axeman’ Mitchell from Dartmoor Prison in December 1966. Familiar faces such as Darren Day and Linda Lusardi help flesh out the story, while the siege-like feel of the drama ensures there’s plenty of tension throughout.
It’s grim, moody, violent and not for the faint of heart.
Nathanjohn Carter and Marc Pickering make a good fist as the notorious twins. It helps that they don’t carry as much baggage as the Kemps or Tom Hardy, while it’s great to see Nicholas Ball making an appearance 40 years after brightening up British TVs with cult drama Hazell. (I also have a fondness for his brief turn in epic 1985 sci-fi chiller Lifeforce, but that’s another story).
Josh Myers gives an unnerving performance as Mitchell, and its achingly sad to see Leslie Grantham in his final performance.
I get the feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Carter and Pickering as you know who. The movie doesn’t outstay its welcome, and while it obviously won’t be for all tastes, if you like Brit indie gangster flicks with a mean streak, this certainly passes the time, even if it does feel like a feature-length teaser for something bigger.