Frank (Richard Coyle) is a medium sized dope dealer looking for a huge score. When a friend of a friend approaches him to get their hands on a kilo of cocaine Frank jumps at the chance of easy, big time money. Complications soon arise after he’s had the product fronted and cannot pay back Milo (Zlatko Buric), a mob boss who’d loaned him the merchandise. Tensions are at an all time high as Frank races against the clock to get Milo his money before his debt is paid in full with morality.
Directed by: Luis Prieto
Starring: Richard Coyle, Bronson Webb, Agyness Deyn, Mem Ferda, Zlatko Buric
During the first few minutes of Pusher I questioned if perhaps this film had been forwarded to the wrong source. There seemed very little that was macabre, horrific or unsettling about the picture. It seemed like an action, gangster flick more apt in different circles. Yet the further I got into the film, the more the fear factor intensified, pulsed and peaked making this a most formidable suspense tale.
From the techno dance beats composed by the group Orbital to the strobe like affects captured by strategic cinematography to varying sounds of gasping for air to jack hammering pulsating action; a very real sensation of unease is achieved from scene one. Richard Coyle is cast well in the role of Frank. The suave, aloof, detached dealer who wants to be your everyday neighborhood Dr. Feelgood but he’s somehow dissatisfied with his own perils and wants to make the big time.
One may not suspect it would be easy to sympathize with a drug dealer. Director Prieto seemingly achieved the impossible here. We want to see Frank rise above the skids of London with his addict, stripper girlfriend Flo (Agyness Deyn) and achieve the dream. Bronson Webb plays a very convincing, irritating Tony (Bronson Webb). It seems Tony’s ultimate purpose in life is to prattle on about nothing in particular, cling onto others with money, booze and/or dope and sponge everything he can possibly get. The tale takes an interesting pivotal turn where Tony is concerned and that’s all I’m prepared to disclose at this juncture.
I like the director’s style of slicing the scenes chronologically from one day of the week to the very end. It enhances Frank and company’s turmoil. It rises the tension ever so gradually. Frank knows some people in very low places. He wants not to test their patience as I’m sure the audience detects they have a very unique way of settling debts in full.
The setting in the night life of London, England is visually esthetic. We get a glimpse into the social behaviors of today’s youth. Perhaps most alarming is just how much drug use and general criminal activity takes place in a city that has video cameras on virtually every street corner. I won’t be so naïve as to suggest it doesn’t exist but the flagrant disregard for any kind of authority did create some disappointment in terms of believability.
Zlatko Buric plays Milo the dry cleaner owner, moving company entrepreneur and ultimately mafia boss. He’s charming, likeable and friendly in the early exchanges with Frank. The true feelings of unease erupt from the audience as he grows increasingly impatient with Frank. His hostility portrayed is of unprecedented caliber. Buric’s performance is on the same plateau of Al Pacino of Scarface.
Pusher is a situation tragedy more than anything but it is certainly worth a glimpse for those who are fans of the underground cartel. Fans may marvel at the fact Pusher was actually shot in sequence, a true cinematic rarity. It’s also a remake of the 1996 film of the same title by Nicolas Winding Refn. Incidentally Pusher is a trilogy with Part 2 released in 2004 and Part 3 as recently as 2005. It’s unclear why a remake was released after the original was so recently. The original however took place in Denmark, whereas this addition is in London.
This version of Pusher was nominated for The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival 2012.
-Three and a half out of five tombstones