Villain is a British gangster movie.
What that means is that there’s a lot of blood and violence but, at the same time, there’s also quite a few scenes of peopled drinking tea.
It means that the dialogue is full of the casual use of the type of profanity that would get you kicked out of a store in America and yet, because all the f-words and the c-words are delivered with British accents, they still somehow sound, at least to an American ear, rather refined.
Being a British gangster film means that the good gangsters live in a tiny flat while the bad gangsters hold meetings in their poshly decorated sitting rooms. It means that we get at least a few scenes of an aging gangster walking around London after having just been released from prison. It means a subplot about the ownership of a pub and at least a few talkative junkies. It means lengthy scenes of threatening dialogue, the majority of which are ended by sudden outbursts of violence. It means gray overcast skies and downbeat endings and at least one dance scene.
As you may have guessed, Villain is not a particularly original film. It’s well-made and some of the actors are good and it’s hard not to respect the film’s dedication to being as grim and downbeat as possible but there’s very little about Villain‘s story that will surprise most viewers. Even the scene where the bad guys taunt the main character by asking him if he’s some sort of “villain” is expected.
Craig Fairbrass plays Eddie Franks, Eddie is a career criminal who, having just been released from prison, is determined to go straight. Despite the fact that daughter tells him that “everything you touch turns to shit,” Eddie is convinced that he can turn his life around. All he wants to do is stay out of trouble and manage his family’s pub. Of course, we know that there’s no way that’s going to happen. After all, no one ever makes a movie about someone getting out of prison and then not being drawn back into a life of crime.
Eddie’s problem is that he has a brother named Sean (George Russo) and Sean has managed to get in debt to Roy and Johnny (played, respectively, by Robert Glenister and Tomi May). Roy and Johnny are always mad about something and they’re definitely not people who you want to owe money too. They want the pub and they want their money and if they don’t get it, both Eddie and Sean are going to end up in a hole in the ground.
While Eddie is trying to figure out how to deal with Roy and Johnny, he’s also trying to pick up the pieces of his life and make amends for the past. He tries to reconnect with his daughter, Chloe (Izuka Hoyle) and he visits with an old friend named Michael (Mark Monero). Eddie wants to be a good citizen but the world just seems to be conspiring against him. It all leads to a downbeat conclusion, as these things often do.
Villain is a well-directed film and Craig Fairbrass has just the right look and manner to play the haunted Eddie. Even though you can pretty much guess everything that’s going to happen to Eddie, you still hope the best for him because, as played Fairbrass, he just seems to be so achingly sincere in his desire to rebuild his life. Unfortunately, as well-made as it is, Villain doesn’t really do anything new with the gangster genre. It’s a bit too predictable for its own good. That said, as familiar as it may be, it gets the job done well enough.