Is it unique? No way. Even if you studied this dark, unimaginative London crime drama under a microscope, you wouldn’t find the tiniest speck of originality. It’s a nasty little film, shallow and poorly acted, with a queasy macho streak – like a Guy Ritchie, but without the subtlety or focus on female characters.
Original Gangster tells the story of a hitman’s rise to power, beginning with his backstory. Castor (Badger Skelton) is spared death as a ten-year-old by Milo (Ian Reddington), a thug who murders his parents. For the next decade, orphaned Castor lives on the streets of London, eating cold beans from tins and honing his mugging skills; this is a film in which men commit aggression in swaggering slow motion.
There is a serious woman issue in the film. Its female characters are either saints who have died or nags who are hit by men. Castor is drinking alone in a graveyard in one scene when a young woman loudly orders him to leave. (Which totally misunderstands most women’s reactions to being alone in a room with a rowdy drunk man twice her size.) “Do you know nothing about the #MeToo campaign, you misogynist pig?” she screams at Castor as he calls her “darling.” As a consequence, he thumps her. After thirty minutes, the script wants you to cheer for him as Milo’s love interest, who is also a survivor of crime. And do me a favor.