Th­ese an­gry men are pre­dictably well up for a fight

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

THE GU­VNORS (15)

MY GRAND­PAR­ENTS grew up in Lon­don’s East End and always talked about the faces who ruled the streets but pro­tected their own. On pa­per, they were just vi­cious gang lead­ers but, when they were on your side, you felt safe. The thugs who roam in­ner-city es­tates to­day are not an­swer­able to any­one — in­clud­ing the po­lice — and at the start of The Gu­vnors we see a gang vi­ciously beat­ing up a girl at the be­hest of their leader, Shanko (Har­ley Sylvester, half of hip-hop duo Riz­zle Kicks), a nasty piece of work who wants “re­spect”.

Re­spect is what all vi­o­lent, re­pug­nant youths de­sire and their clichéd mantra — “you dis­re­spect me...” — is a lam­en­ta­ble jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for com­mit­ting crime and hurt­ing oth­ers. When Shanko starts trou­ble in a pub owned by for­mer East End hard man Mickey (David Es­sex, yes that one), he is felled with a sin­gle punch and promptly vows to avenge the shame.

Wrongly, I’d as­sumed The Gu­vnors of the ti­tle were all ex-hard men who kept the East End in or­der. But dis­ap­point­ingly, writer/direc­tor Gabe Turner made them age­ing for­mer foot­ball hooli­gans — in other words, no dif­fer­ent to the op­po­si­tion. So in­stead of a film fo­cused on a psy­cho­log­i­cal bat­tle for con­trol between two gen­er­a­tions, we just get an­other fight movie. Not a bad one, mind you, but a missed op­por­tu­nity. Some of the old timers have moved on to be­come po­lice­men, traf­fic war­dens and even suc­cess­ful busi­ness­men. Yet there is noth­ing much in the script to tell us how.

Hand­some Mitch (Doug Allen of The Firm) is one of them and his quiet dig­nity, to­gether with his con­cerns about his son be­hav­ing vi­o­lently at school, make him a re­ally in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter, be it an un­der-de­vel­oped one. Sylvester, too, is ex­tremely watch­able and adept at be­ing both men­ac­ing on the street and com­pas­sion­ate around his younger brother. There is a trou­bling twist, which I won’t spoil, but it could have worked much bet­ter had it not been thrown in at the last minute and left hang­ing. I just wish the great premise of The Gu­vnors had led to some­thing more sub­stan­tial and not just an­other big fight.

PHOTO: CRAIG SUG­DEN

Har­ley Sylvester ( left) is watch­ably vi­o­lent and com­pas­sion­ate as Shanko

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