Just when you thought the cockney gangster genre was brown bread and buried in concrete, Frank Harper’s St. Georges Day (2012) comes floating down the Thames carrying a cast of familiar London heavies, armed to the teeth with dodgy dialogue and cringe-inducing homages. Craig Fairbrass and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1997) star Harper play ageing hard men Ray and Mickey, a pair of notorious brothers who run a successful London criminal organisation. Tired of the life and eager to go legit, Ray decides to retire from the business and buys shares in a Spanish golf course, but needs the profits from his last major drug deal to fund his kosher venture.
Predictably, things go a bit Pete Tong. When the coke couriers end up dead and the Russian Mafia finds themselves out of pocket, Ray, Mickey and their seasoned firm of football hooligans formulate a plan to recover their stash. The first fifteen minutes of St. Georges Day is a masterclass in bad filmmaking. Harper’s lazy narration is distracting and the scene in which Ray and Mickey turn up to shoot a bolshy Ruskie who owes them fifty grand is at best a clumsy parody of Samuel L. Jackson’s Ezekiel 25:17 speech in Pulp Fiction (1994) – and at worst, extremely poor writing and delivery.
If you manage to make it past the aforementioned opening salvo, you’re then faced with a barrage of Guy Richie regulars such as Nick Moran and Dexter Fletcher, who pop up for a few minutes only to then disappear into the ether. Obviously, they’re helping out their old chum Harper but their cameos only serve to remind you that the London acting fraternity has been a den of incest for well over a decade. It’s not all pony and trap, however. Apart from Sean Pertwee – who continues to squander his talent in nothing roles – the rest of cast are on fine form, particularly Vincent Regan as the brothers’ hard man in Amsterdam Albert Ball – a dead ringer for Tom Cruise’s lone assassin Vincent in Michael Mann’s Collateral (2004).
There are a few twists you’ll see coming a mile away, the odd snappy exchange and Harper’s direction is solid enough to warrant a second outing. Yet despite his best efforts, he’s unable to inject new life into a tired old genre. St. Georges Day is no means a complete failure, but only those who can’t get enough of cockneys and claret should spare the time to give it a butchers.