You want my rep… Right…? Then shoot me!
Starring Harley Sylvester, who is more famously known as one-half of pop-rap duo Rizzle Kicks; young shank wielding thugs take on a firm of retired football hooligans. This is a brutal cross-generational conflict, set in south East London, co-produced by author and ‘hooliologist’ Cass Pennant and directed by Gabe Turner (The Class of 92). Making his film debut film as the brooding, sadistic gang leader Adam, the musician is utterly convincing, terrifying, and a world away from his boy-next-door image. This is a powerful break out performance. I mean instead of cutting demos and shooting pop promos…. he’s cutting and shooting people!
Doug Allen offers a performance as solid as his square-jaw as reformed but ageing hooligan, Mitch. He is previously renowned as leader of the notorious 80s mob The Guvnors. After suffering humiliation at the hands of old-timer, Mickey (David Essex), the firm’s mentor and ‘Godfather’, Adam pursues this crowd of old-skool offenders to really affirm who now rules the concrete jungle. By way of sub-plot, we are given an insight into Mitch’s now respectably dull family life. He is indeed reformed, middle class and has traded his switchblade for a briefcase. His foremost concern now is keeping his teenage son in line and as far away from a violent adolescence as possible. When Mitch’s mentor is killed by Adam’s gang in an act of retribution; the Guvnors rally into action with a strong focus and renewed sense of hatred for a new youthful enemy.
Sylvester’s slow, evil, rhythmic murmuring is consistent with his menacing appearance – a scarred young man in every sense of the word. The Guvnors comes to a head with the old hooligans facing off against the young, hooded delinquents – and the consequences are unsurprisingly grim. Aside from the gasp-out-loud violent scenes and reiteration of negative stereotypes concerning British youngsters from council estates, The Guvnors will likely be immediately attacked for embodying a farcical mish-mash of Kidulthood meets The Football Factory with Sylvester playing the role of Adam in a manner that suggests a rehash of Noel Clarke’s, Sam Peel.
Unsurprising or fairly predictable is perhaps another criticism of The Guvnors. It is obvious from the title there will be a major confrontation between the two sides and the tit-for-tat incidents do not ambush the audience’s expectations. Conversely, there is one truly eye-brow raising plot twist which will likely split the viewing public by the time the credits roll. The message and central them being endorsed by The Guvnors is one that somewhat also appears at odds with itself. On the one hand, the audience is warned about the importance of being responsible moral citizens for the sake of the next generation and then on the other, it would seem the only way to get the new generation in line is to give them a good kicking! Alternatively, the filmmakers know its target audience and know it well. The film’s producers and especially the creative input of Cass Pennant contribute heavily to the film’s gritty realism.
The Guvnors is uncompromisingly modern British gangland entertainment and whether you like it or not – it does exactly what it says on the tin.
The Guvnors is in a select number of cinemas nationwide now. Check your local cinema for listings.
Read The British Blacklist interview with Cass Pennant here.