Today: February 21, 2024
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Pusher

Maybe it’s the death knell of Western Civilisation but every other film being released these days seems to either be a “re-imagining” of an earlier film or a “re-boot” of a dying franchise.

Maybe it’s
the death knell of Western Civilisation but every other film being released
these days seems to either be a “re-imagining” of an earlier film or a
“re-boot” of a dying franchise.

After the cinematic abortion that was Stallone’s 1995 Judge Dredd, Pete TravisAlex Garland-scripted
Dredd managed to breathe new life
into 2000AD’s Old Stone Face. Christopher Nolan’s visionary take on
the Caped Crusader changed our perceptions of comic book movies. And just around the corner we have a
new version of Carrie with Chloe Grace Moretz, Elite Squad director Jose Padhila’s Robocop re-boot with The
Killing
’s Joel Kinnaman and Tom Hardy pulling on Mel Gibson’s leathers for Mad Max: Thunder Road.

It’s not just intellectual bankruptcy and a failure of
imagination that drives filmmakers to remake films, in a risk adverse world
they’re a safe bet. The Pink Panther was hilarious in the
‘70s and made mucho moolah. How
could a re-imagining with Steve Martin
possibly fail? Who wouldn’t want
to see Keanu Reeves play an alien
Christ-figure in The Day The Earth Stood
Still
?

Sometimes the best reason in the world to remake a film is
our own inherent laziness. Foreign
films…they’re a lotta effort, aren’t they? For a start, no-one speaks English so you have to read the
subtitles and that’s just plain distracting, isn’t it? Hell, if you wanted to read, you’d be
at home on the toilet, not in the cinema.
So Seven Samurai becomes The Magnificent Seven, Infernal Affairs becomes The Departed and the terrifying Spoorloos (The Vanishing) becomes the
laughable The Vanishing. Which brings us to Luis Pietro’s London-set remake of Nicholas Winding Refn’s 1996 Danish debut film Pusher.

Not so much a re-imagining as it is a karaoke cover
version, Pusher is almost a
scene-by-scene remake of the original charting the worst week in small-time
drug dealer Frank’s (Richard Coyle)
life. Smooth and charming, Frank’s
life is one endless party; glamorous nightclubs, all the best parties and
pole-dancing stripper girlfriend Flo (played by supermodel Agyness Deyn). Frank
owes a bit of money to his supplier, the genially terrifying Milo (Zlatko Buric reprising his role from
the original Danish film), but he’s not worried; he’s setting up a big deal
with some lads from up North and all he needs is for Milo to front him a kilo
of top quality coke. However the
cops bust the deal and Frank is forced to destroy the coke, throwing it in a
duck pond. Deep in debt, Frank is
given just two days to come up with the £50,000 he owes Milo if he wants to
keep his fingers and knees where they are…

Slick, glossy and polished, Pusher lacks the raw intensity, the scuzzy
feel, the sweaty grit of Winding Refn’s original. It’s energetic, rattles along at a fair old clip and has a
suitably pulsing, propulsive soundtrack courtesy of Orbital but there’s really nothing here you haven’t seen
before. In the role that Kim Bodna owned in the original, Coyle
is fine as Frank but never quite banishes the image of that nice comedy
Welshman he used to play in that sitcom that was supposed to be the British Friends even when he’s hoovering up
coke, beating the sh*t out of someone or robbing a party at gunpoint. As his sidekick Tony, Bronson Webb never comes close to the
pathetic neediness Mads Mikkelson
brought to the character while Zlatko
Buric
just does exactly what he did before but in English. As Frank’s junkie/stripper girlfriend
and occasional hooker Flo, professional clothes wearer Agyness Deyn is neither
sexy enough to be a stripper or skanky enough to be a junkie. She wanders through the film with an
expression like a confused but pretty giraffe who’s just been shown a card
trick. Like her, Pusher is vacant but pretty.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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