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Doomsday and The Long Good Friday

After watching the unrated version of Doomsday I think it took an unnecessary beating at the hands of critics, but who knows how different the theatrical release was? I've enjoyed Neil Marshall's exploration of variations on horror tinted pulp, so far. I don't see how Doomsday was any worse than Dog Soldiers, but I guess people were hoping for his latest effort to top The Descent. Good luck there. Not only was he back to editing his own product (rather than Jon Harris, editor of Snatch, Ripley's Game, and Layer Cake), but the synergy between writing and location in The Descent couldn't be improved upon. That movie was scary long before any traditional horror elements were introduced to it.

As a film in the tradition of Mad Max and Escape from New York, Doomsday did just fine. It had a decently disturbing near future, a nasty supervirus, and some badass action sequences, including some really fucking cool fights. A few moments stretch the viewer's suspension of disbelief, including an impossible jump involving a Bentley and a bus, but so what? It was fun and gritty, which was all I was looking for.

Inspired by Bob Hoskins' appearance in Marshall's latest offering, I decided to finally get around to watching The Long Good Friday. It was everything I wanted it to be. At the opening, you are treated to obviously related, but not quite contiguous scenes; a puzzle before the plot kicks in.

That's when you're introduced to Harold Shand, Hoskins' impassioned, complex criminal boss (possibly an inspiration for James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano), who alone would drive the film even if it weren't all that well directed. Harold and his wife have an interesting dynamic you don't see a lot in organized crime flicks. It unfolds for us while they're trying to keep their organisation operating, placate prospective business partners, maintain the peace between gangs, and gain more of a legal, public face. What happens if that all falls apart?

And why should it fall apart? Well, you see, they've got to solve a mystery: Who's trying to blow up Harold?

Incidentally, The Long Good Friday seems to be scheduled for a remake. I can't say I'm surprised... or pleased.

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