Today: February 21, 2024

The Fall Of The Essex Boys

Once upon a time, well, December 1995, three not-so-bright, charmless, borderline psychopathic gangsters bit the dust

Once upon a
time, well, December 1995, three not-so-bright, charmless, borderline
psychopathic gangsters bit the dust
(or at least
the expensive upholstery of the Range Rover they were sitting in) in a hail of
lead in a quiet country lane in rural Essex.

The three, Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe were
vicious, coked up, ‘roided up thugs who had Southend’s drug business sewn up
and were set up for execution after getting too big for their boots and also,
allegedly, being the dealers responsible for selling the Ecstasy tablet that
led to the death of ex-policeman’s daughter, Leah Betts. Two equally unlovable gangsters,
Michael Steele and Jack Wholmes, from a rival firm were eventually convicted of
the murders in 1998 on the evidence of police ‘supergrass’ Darren Nicholls.

Thanks to the brutal nature of the killings, the incident
has taken on a life of it’s own becoming England’s answer to the Saint
Valentine’s Day Massacre and, until the emergence of TOWIE, was probably the vilest thing to come out of Essex. And like Mark Wright it just won’t go
away. First there was 2000’s Essex Boys, a names have been changed
to protect the not-so-innocent account of the murders and the events leading up
to them which had a decent cast (Sean
Bean, Alex Kingston, Tom Wilkinson
) and was a solid, if uninspiring little
Brit gangster flick. Then there
was Julian Gilbey’s muscular Rise Of The Footsoldier in 2007 which
focused on peripheral figure, ex-football hooligan and gangster Carlton
Leach. 2010 saw the bottom of the
barrel scraped by Bonded By Blood
but even then there was precious little meat left on the bones of those
designer-clad corpses.

Now, 17 years after the murders, we have The Fall Of The Essex Boys, the fourth
version of what happened that dark rainy night in Essex and perhaps the most
inept, superfluous film you’ll have the misfortune to see all year. Or any year. With narration that sounds like it’s being delivered by a
cokehead reading the script aloud for the first time, the film is essentially
87 minutes of interchangeable dodgy geezers in Pringle sweaters and designer
tracksuit bottoms being a bit tasty, snorting, drinking, banging slags,
brandishing shooters, riding in speedboats like they’re in Miami Vice not Southend and generally playing Charlie Big Potatoes
while calling everyone around them a “Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant!” A nasty, vacuous waste of your time,
the tedium of The Fall Of The Essex Boys
is only alleviated by the rather cruel pleasure to be derived from the fact
that one of the “actors” (and in this film that term is looser than Gandalf’s
cloak) cast as a thuggish Essex Boy sounds like he has a severe speech
impediment. Or maybe that’s what
the real gangster sounded like.
Either way, weeping with disgust and repeatedly hitting yourself in the
face with a claw hammer in a fog of drunken self-hate while watching re-runs of
TOWIE on ITV2 will achieve much the same effect as watching The Fall Of The Essex Boys.

Interestingly though, the Rettendon Range Rover murders have
become almost the Six Degrees Of Kevin
of the UK film industry with virtually every British B-movie actor of
the last 20 years turning up in more than one telling of the tale. While the likes of Sean Bean and Alex
Kingston (Essex Boys), Craig Fairbrass (Rise Of The Footsoldier), Vincent
Regan, Tamer Hassan
and Adam Deacon
(Bonded By Blood) have managed to
get away with being in just one film, poor Billy Murray wasn’t so lucky,
appearing in two (Essex Boys and Rise Of The Footsoldier) while his Rise Of The Footsoldier co-stars Neil Maskell and Terry Stone were also unlucky enough to be in Bonded By Blood. Pity then the talented and ill-used Kierston Wareing; she gets to play a
chavtastic slag in Rise…, Bonded… and The Fall Of The Essex Boys.
Maybe it’s time to change agents…

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:

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