Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Gangsters, Guns & Zombies - review

2012 (UK)

Contains spoilers.

I'm not really sure what director and writer (along with Taliesyn Mitchell) Matt Mitchell was going for with this low budget Reservoir Dogs meets the undead shindig. It's not funny, it's not scary, the little action there is half-hearted and never satisfying; and inherently dislikeable, obnoxious, one dimensional caricatures don't generally make for a good character drama, which is what, if I'm forced to say, I think best describes it. It's also another good cover and title, and yet more deceit to win over the TWD generation; though 'six tedious men drive round for an hour talking shit' I guess wouldn't have sold as many copies.

Boom! They've robbed a bank, one guy has been shot and they're making their escape across London. Boom! It's the undead apocalypse; zombie hordes roam the streets; society is collapsing and hell has come to Earth. Boom? All the five remaining east-end goons can do is whitter on about shiny shoes, the sat-nav and getting to the safe house with their ill-gotten gains, with scant regard for the zombies knocking at their window. Maybe they were as bored with the laboured, stifled and awkward dialogue and banter as we ultimately got to be, but the set-up for more than just a drawn out road movie is there.

There is a big zombie problem and Mitchell goes to great lengths to ensure both we know, and that we know that they know. Whether the dry radio exposition, always perfectly timed, or highly contrived, tortured and entirely superfluous zombie shorts, that include clowns, a bride and groom, medieval knights, kids or amateur football team, that accompany the van on its meander; the larger apocalypse is restated over and over. This is it; end of the world stuff and yet it's all such a tedious and seemingly inconsequential affair and not worthy of much more than cursory recognition; there's the group in the van, and the world outside, and trivial interaction. Even the road offer no resistance, what with everyone else conveniently deciding to stay indoors.

Dare I say it, the film does pick up after an hour or so when the confines of the van are finally ditched and half the cast is replaced by a girl and her gun toting grandmother. It's also saying a lot, that this alone managed to breathe some life into the soulless mish-mash of half-hearted ideas that constituted a narrative. That there's actually some chemistry between the final four only demonstrates just how bad it was before the cull; and just how baffling Mitchell et al. didn't pick up on it earlier and radically alter things.

It's the derivative zombie outbreak painfully clarified and explained. Blood, bites, brains, head-shots, a virus with the sprinkle of something darker. It's 2012 too so expect fast 28 Days Later zombies, snarling and ready to bite with their five second made-up red smeared mouths. The extras do as good as job as one would probably expect though there's always the one, you know, the one with his hands in his pockets off to the side, or the one who looks briefly at the camera, or the one that's just not as in to it as the rest, and they do distract. There's also, as budget probably dictated, quite a lot of off-screen slaughter with thrown in blood and crunching sounds offered more in hope than belief.

Gangster, Guns & Zombies just never gets going. A lethargic ponderous little drama, with odious caricatures and forced dialogue it's a film that is truly hard to recommend. Whilst there are little moments that shine, they're so sporadic and so short-changed they're engulfed by the large swathes of monotonous filler that dominates. When all is said and done, all one will remember Gangster, Guns & fucking Zombies for is the rampant use of foul language, presumably because there's a belief all cockneys treat expletives as mandatory adverbs, and because, for an hour and a half, absolutely nothing happens. Go watch Cockneys vs Zombies instead - 3/10


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