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New Release Review - Hackney's Finest

A small time drug dealer finds himself on the wrong side of the law and several violent gangs.


Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Chris Bouchard

Starring: Nathanael Wiseman, Arin Alldridge, Enoch Frost


Unctuous geezer Sirus (Nathanael Wiseman) is having a rough old time of it in Chris Bouchard’s cockney-noir Hackney’s Finest. The day began so cushy for him too; kissing his bird goodbye before poncing off to work on his big shiny motorbike… all the while lightly banjaxed on heroin, his drug of choice. The problem is see, cheeky chappie Sirus likes to supplement his earnings as a cab radio hand by shifting a little bit of the old Persian now and again, and he ain’t above getting high on his own supply. Moreover, while Sirus chased the dragon and snogged the missus back at his manor, his partner in small time crime, Asif (Rajan Sharma) has only gone and been taken in by the filth (Malcolm Tomlinson and Sean Cronin). These bent coppers have their eye not only on a shipment of heroin arriving at Tilbury Docks, but also on Sirus himself, who’s crossed them one too many times (or something). Can Sirus avoid the law, violent Serbian ganglords and various other mushes in order to safely retrieve Asif and the boatload of brown? Will his Mrs do her nut? Will he ever take off that woolly grey hat? What a load of bovver.
It isn’t completely clear why the coppers have it in for Sirus. Maybe it’s because, for a bottom feeding dealer, he’s amazingly smug. From the very off, with his would-be enviable lifestyle and gadabout manner, he’s an unlikeable little git, and thus it is impossible to give a fig about what happens to him or fellow thug Asif. Nor does it make any sense for the five-oh to go to such great pains to involve him in their plan; it's Asif’s uncle who organises the shipments; Sirus just sells it on. Why bother adding another variable to a multi-million pound heist?
Perhaps the above plot point was explained during some scene, but it was no doubt obscured by the clanging profanity of the script. According to the dialogue in Hackney’s Finest, everyone is ‘a c*nt’; the pejorative is used with such frequency that at times you could well think you’re watching an estuary Vagina Monologues. The only reason we’re given to root for Sirus is because, as only a small time smack dealer, he’s apparently less of a see-you-next-time than the coppers and gang lords he finds himself up against (whom we know are really bad because they use racist epithets and masturbate to porn, as well as kill people). A couple of Yardies are configured as a comedy duo, their accents veering between heavy Jamaican and a Welsh lilt: this in itself is supposed to be hilarious. In fact, very little of Hackney’s Finest adds up to much sense at all, and one gets the feeling that the scant characterisation and hectic early plotting of the film is simply a justification to get to the abiding macho interests of Hackney’s Finest’s final act' The Showdown in the Warehouse, where the cast get to act hard and point guns at each other, and which seems to go on forever.
If you like this sort of cartoony crime caper, then Hackney’s Finest is ok. There’s enough geezerisms and even the odd explosion to keep you sweet. For the rest of us though, it’s hard going. The narrative hinges on the presence of heroin; Sirus is a casual user, as are the Yardies, and half the cast perish attempting to secure 50 keys of the stuff. But a major issue with Hackney’s Finest is that it wilfully misunderstands the actual effects of the drug which it has chosen to base its entire plot upon. Characters smoke foil as if it were cigarettes, and are then seen running about as if they’ve imbibed nothing more debilitating than a glass of Lambrini. There also is a jolly montage of Sirus and the Yardies chasing the dragon and ordering an Indian takeout which is just silly; we’re not talking a couple of spliffs here, after all. In fact, you could remove Sirus’ consequence free habit from the narrative, and it would have no bearing on the plot - it’s Sirus’ links to the importation of the drug that ties him to the story. You get the impression that his drug use is simply there to provide characterisation, to make him look cool. No one is arguing that all films depicting drugs should contrive negative consequences for users, but Hackney’s Finest’s happy-go-lucky depiction of heroin is simply unconvincing, and grating in its ignorance.
[SPOILER- Most egregious is the ending of the film, where the bad guys lose, but our heroes, Sirus, Asif and the comedy Yardies, live on, recipients of a mountainous stack of smack, which they are now free to carrying on dealing to the addicted and vulnerable. Um, yay? - SPOILER ENDS]
I’ll give ya the Gawd’s honest, guv; the performances are largely fine, the dialogue seems to have been restored from Guy Ritchie’s recycle bin circa 1999, and the style ranges from solid to indecipherably murky at times.
If this is ‘Hackney’s Finest’, I’d hate to see its worst.


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