Title: Brighton Rock
Director: Rowan Joffe
Starring: Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough, Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Andy Serkis, Nonso Anozie, Sean Harris
A solid cast fall victim to bad storytelling through the lens in Brighton Rock. The 111 minute crime-drama, set in 1964 around a tourist pier England (think Atlantic City), somehow received a scatter-brain edit. Which is kind of inexcusable since this is a remake of the 1947 original based off a class novel from the late 30s, in which both garnered respectable praise.
Crime dramas tend to focus on an up-n-comer in the criminal underworld and the story will chronicle the subject’s rise to power. Along the way, there is always an interjected subplot of having a love interest, where the couple initially seems to revel in bliss as if nothing could tear their bond apart. Naturally, business gets in the way and the relationship eventually withers away. Or explodes.
Pinkie (Sam Riley) is a guy with chaotic ambition. After he witnesses the murder of his boss, he seizes the opportunity to take control of the small contingent by tracking down the man who did the job in Fred Hale (Sean Harris). Hale is all out of sorts after the murder and turns to his longtime friend Ida (Helen Mirren), but is sparse on the details.
Meanwhile, Pinkie is on edge more than usual, for it just so happens an employee who works for Ida – the lacking in self-esteem Rose (Andrea Riseborough) – may have witnessed him doing terrible things. To remedy this, he decides to pursue a relationship with the unassuming waitress, in order to keep her quiet.
Sensing something is wrong, Ida enlists the help of her elder friend Phil Corkery (John Hurt). The duo visit with the crime lords of Brighton Rock, specifically the top-dog in the refined Colleoni (Andy Serkis in human-form for once), in trying to keep Rose out of harms way and to find away to be rid of the unhinged Pinkie.
Writing this synopsis was a chore folks. The storytelling is not that concise and/or focused. To tell you the truth, the screenplay was so bad and underdeveloped, what is written above could be wrong.
To use a modern day comparison, the tone of this flick comes across as gritty cinematic telling of the popular HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Sans the writing, directing and production value (well, the set designs are solid for the time period). Although the acting is there, the ordering and delivery of the characters & plot is just a mess. It’s tough to care about what’s going on when you can’t understand the dialogue (fast-talking British) and the flow of the screenplay is as choppy as the waters by the seashell beach where this take place.
When there is some gang vs. gang action, it comes in the form of switchblade knives, as guys in suits swing and stab at the intended mark. The knife fights are usually followed by abusive conversations between the happy couple and then the camera cuts to Helen Mirren and John Hurt pontificating; which begs the question why are they involved? Who are they? What’s their background? Give me a reason why we should give a crap!
Look, this is just a piss-poor cinematic telling that brings in a nice cast and thoughtful settings to explore. Even the appropriate big-band musical score is cool to take in. All that said, this comes across as if the filmmakers made this up as they went along. It may have been written in crayon. Most likely, the budget constraints probably hampered what they wanted to do here. Either way, this is not worth your time, for there are far better products in this genre. Brighton Rock is more annoying than interesting.
Review by Joe Belcastro