Respect is a funny old thing. In order to get a little, you also have to give a little. What Sacha Bennett’s sixth full feature, We Still Kill the Old Way (2014), stylishly and cheekily showcases the ramifications of children not seeing their way to respecting their elders. It knows when to have fun and sits easily between gritty gore and being irreverent to a fault, meanwhile the ganglands of East London have never looked more enticing. When aging gangster Charlie Archer (Steven Berkoff) is murdered by a group of hubristic criminal upstarts, led by upstart Aaron (Danny-Boy Hatchard), it is up to his brother Richie (Ian Ogilvy) to exact vengeance.
After rounding up the old gang, Richie works his way through the ranks, sparing no effort or bullet in order to dig up the truth. It’s a clash of the generations. The pleasure of watching older gents teach the young ones a thing or two about manners and street politics plays wonderfully and We Still Kill the Old Way delights in the visceral and colourful. The best fun is had in torture scenes, when the old dogs get to really flex their muscles. Revelry is begat as the film delves into the gangster genre, offering fun exchanges like when Richie and his pals are dressed in suits, causing one of their victims to mock their resemblance to Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992). The revenge plot is nothing new but it holds a snappy pace that keeps audiences wondering just who will come out on top when all is said and done.
Despite the moments of grittiness, the tone here never gets too bogged down. Perhaps it is because the film, like its viewers, knows what’s coming around the corner before Aaron and his gang do. There’s something familiar about this storyline so Bennett dispenses with the need to build characters or suspense. It skirts with complete unoriginality, but that’s where the performances turned in by the cast come to the rescue. Ogilvy is the king of the castle – all growl, he swaggers and maims with ease and assurance. He is solid in his embodiment of Richie Archer, the old ways of the gang life personified. We are able to relish in Richie’s vengeance all the more because of this sort of familiarity. We Still Kill the Old Way is a fun, old-school send-up to the a bygone era of films that took pleasure in its exhibitionism and its hunt for retribution.
Allie Gemmill | @alliegem