Dir: Luis Prieto. UK. 2012. 86mins
Comparisons are inevitable but Luis Prieto’s briskly efficient, English-language remake of Pusher is unlikely to challenge the supremacy of the 1996 Nicolas Winding Refn original. Prieto has smoothed away a good deal of the searing intensity that established Refn as a talent to watch. That leaves just another slick urban thriller that is perfectly respectable but overly familiar.
Restless camerawork, fast cuts, neon-lit strip clubs and a throbbing, electronic score from Orbital lend the film a slightly dated air.
The association with Refn could still secure a modest theatrical response domestically when Vertigo release it in the UK in October following a world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It lacks the drawing power of name talent or a distinctive enough flavour to give it any kind of edge internationally.
Set in London, the new Pusher sticks closely to the original story as it follows small time drug dealer Frank (Richard Coyle) over a week in which the world seems to turn against him. Betrayed and abandoned, he turns increasingly desperate as he struggles to raise the money he owes to the ruthless Milo (an avuncular, scene-stealing Zlatko Buric repeating his role from Refn’s Pusher trilogy).
Restless camerawork, fast cuts, neon-lit strip clubs and a throbbing, electronic score from Orbital lend the film a slightly dated air. Running a good twenty minutes shorter than its predecessor, the film leaves a number of secondary characters feeling badly underdeveloped.
The one truly interesting fresh touch is the casting of Richard Coyle as Frank. Coyle offers a more affable, refined Frank than the memorable bull-in-a-china-shop creation of Kim Bodnia. When things start to go wrong he reacts with a weary, stoical anguish, leaving his own stamp on the character.
Production companies: Vertigo Films, Embargo Films
International sales: Gaumont, www.gaumont.com
Producers: Rupert Preston, Christopher Simon, Felix Vossen
Executve producer: Nicolas Winding Refn
Screenplay: Matthew Read based on the screenplay by Nicolas WInding Refn and Jens Dahl
Cinematography: Simon Dennis
Editor: Kim Gaster
Production designer: Pedro Webster
Main cast: Richard Coyle, Agyness Deyn, Bronson Webb, Mem Ferda, Zlatko Buric