Craig Fairbrass gives an amazing performance in this action-drama that could be the British equivalent of a Scorsese film.
After serving a ten-year sentence, Eddie Franks has been released from prison. Learning a lot while in the slammer, he had become a mentor to fellow prisoners as well as befriending the guards. Returning to the free world, Eddie plans to do good and not go back to his past. Reuniting with his brother Sean, Eddie intends to once again run the family pub and make sure it all works well. Eddie also intends to reconnect with his estranged daughter Chloe. However, his road to redemption is about to hit some bumps on the road.
First, Eddie finds out Sean has been giving a tab to a notorious thug who works for crime boss brothers Roy and Johnny Garrett. However, Eddie temporarily uses his savage instincts when he is confronted and ridiculed by the thug. But things get worse when Eddie learns George has a drug addiction and owes the Garrett Brothers a lot of money. In addition, Chloe wants nothing to do with Eddie as she finds herself in a very bad relationship with her boyfriend. Eddie may find himself with no alternative to revert back to his old ways in order to save his family.
Martin Scorsese’s mafia films were revered classics. From GoodFellas to Casino to The Irishman, Scorsese delves into not only the world of the mob and its depiction of violence, but he also brings that emotional depth into the characters. For this particular film, writers George Russo and Greg Hall must have done their homework by studying Scorsese at some point. This film has shades of Scorsese in the world of the British gangster world, in this case, the story of a road of redemption for our protagonist, Eddie Franks.
Craig Fairbrass has been known to play one-dimensional tough guy characters such as Delmar in Cliffhanger and most recently, Scott Adkins’ really vile brother in Avengement. However, this film gives him the chance to up the ante by not only playing a man attempting to change his life but does it in such an emotional way when it comes to his relationship with his brother and estranged daughter. Fairbrass gives a tour de force performance as we see him go through the wringer when it comes to his issues with the Garrett Brothers, the intellectual Roy played by Robert Glenister and the muscle Johnny, played by Tomi May.
Co-writer George Russo also gives an emotional performance as the embittered Sean, who we seen in the opening of the film get accosted and nearly killed by the Garrett Brothers because he owes a massive debt. We see Russo in an on-off relationship with his girlfriend, still doing drugs despite Eddie’s pleas to go clean, and always seems to find a way to cover his own tail without a care in the world. As for Izuka Hoyle’s Chloe, her relationship with Eddie is more than complicated. At first, Chloe wants nothing to do with her father, but it does beyond that. He eventually learns the truth as to why she feels she has to hide him but as a dad, Eddie does eventually let those paternal instincts kick in. These two situations help Eddie on his road to redemption, but in the case of the former, it may also lead to Eddie making a decision that he never wanted to think about in the long run.
Villain is perhaps the British gangster equivalent of a Martin Scorsese film. The graphic violence is minimal, but Craig Fairbrass is the heart and soul of the film as a former bad man whose road to redemption doesn’t go as planned.
WFG RATING: A
Saban Films presents an Ascendant Films production. Director: Philip Barantini. Producer: Bart Ruspoli. Writers: George Russo and Greg Hall. Cinematography: Matthew Lewis. Editing: Alex Fountain.
Cast: Craig Fairbrass, George Russo, Izuka Hoyle, Robert Glenister, Tomi May, Mark Monero, Eloise Lovell Anderson, Taz Skylar, Nicholas Aaron, Michael John Treanor, Marcus Onilude, Jennifer Matter.