Vinnie’s a big hit in thriller
THE BIG UGLY (15)
(In cinemas and on digital from today)
THIS old-fashioned thriller is named after a creek in Tennessee.
Although football fans of a certain age may see a reference to its leading man.
But while 80s footie bad-boy Vinnie Jones delivered some big and very ugly performances on the pitch, he is surprisingly soulful as the film’s tortured anti-hero.
Writer-director Scott Wiper worked with him on The Condemned and wrote the role of cockney mob enforcer Neelyn for him – with encouragement from Vinnie’s late wife Tanya.
And it seems that they both saw something in the actor that casting directors had overlooked.
The action begins with a culture clash as geezers from a cockney gangster movie land in the steaming heat of a Southern noir.
Snappily attired London crime boss Harris (Malcolm Mcdowell) has jetted into Tennessee to launder his ill-gotten gains by investing in dodgy US oilman Preston’s (Ron Perlman) venture in the Appalachian mountains.
He has brought along his loyal enforcer Neelyn, just to make sure none of the rednecks steps out of line. But after a booze-sodden party to celebrate the signing of the contracts, that his disappeared.
An early inquiry places her at the bar with Preston’s psycho son Junior (Brandon Sklenar), who hit the road suspiciously early that morning. Neelyn has done Harris’s dirty work for years but this is
Neelyn discovers girlfriend has
■ personal. The film is missing a stand-out action scene and you can feel the budgetary restraints in the finale.
But the performances are excellent. The ex-footballer shares plenty of scenes with veterans Mcdowell and Perlman but he never feels out of place. – AL