The Guvnors is a modern take on the classic London gangland thriller, albeit with an indie edge. Directed by Gabe Turner (The Class of ’92) and re-purposing this erring-on-overused genre, The Guvnors combines the history of football hooliganism with modern estate war. In his big screen debut, Harley Sylvester of British hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks stars as Adam Shankley – estate-nurtured, love-starved, and knife-wielding. Sylvester is utterly convincing and perfectly terrifying as a bloodthirsty and ferocious petty criminal, with aspirations of gangland fame.
Doug Allen is reformed and ageing hooligan Mitch, previously renowned as leader of a mob christened “The Guvnors”. After suffering humiliation at the hands of their OAP mentor, Shankley seeks out this crowd of now retired, but still ready-for-action old timers to really show them who’s boss. As a side-line we get an insight into Mitch’s now placid family life, reformed, middle class and now only briefcase-wielding, his biggest task is keeping his teenage son in line. When Mitch’s mentor is killed by Adam’s gang in an act of retribution, The Guvnors leap back into action with a youthful spring in their step to reclaim their crowns, along with the estate they previously ruled. Sylvester in unrecognisable on the big screen, his rhythmic form of communication and consistently menacing demeanour with added layer of London estate swag are a far cry from the bouncing demeanour we previously saw dancing on screen with Olly Murs. It’s a stunning break out performance.
The Guvnors comes to a head with the old-heavies facing off against the wily upstarts on this shared homeland turf in an completely unrealistic, yet still shocking brutal war. At times The Guvnors slips into a less glamorous version of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, with fantastical twists and incredulous turns, bringing the main characters lives’ colliding and intertwining with a bang. Scripting is savvy, dialogue is convincing and there are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments to counterbalance the steely momentum of the storyline. The Guvnors is an incredible showcase of British talent: it’s brutal, violent and almost actively endorsing these modern lives of terror as the characters show no signs of retribution. That said, this film knows its target market and knows it well – if you’re a lad that loves films of the Lock, Stock ilk, then this one is for you.
The Guvnors is released nationwide on 22nd August 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Guvnors here: