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Wild Bill


Stars: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Liz White, Andy Serkis, Olivia Williams, Jamie (Jaime) Winstone, Sammy Williams, Charlotte Spencer, Leo Gregory, Jason Flemyng

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Actor Fletcher's directorial debut is a cut above the usual British tenement block crime drama. Creed-Miles gives a sympathetic performance as 'Wild Bill' Hayward, hardened criminal just out of prison after eight years.

Warned by his parole officer (Williams) 'no drinking, no associating with known criminals - and no drugs', the barely literate Bill is reunited with his two sons, 16-year-old Dean (Poulter), who's left school and is working on the Olympic site, and 11-year-old Jimmy (Williams), who's already running drugs for local kingpin T (Gregory). Given a prostitute by his criminal mates for his first night out, Bill returns home roaring drunk.

The following day social services warn him to clean up the flat if he wants to keep his sons out of foster care. Bill has no plans to stick around, but, well, circumstances dictate otherwise.

Although predictable elements for the genre - tough language, brutal violence, drugs everywhere and Serkis typecast as the district godfather - abound, the film has a big heart as well as dollops of rasping cockney wit. 'Wot's 'e want?' asks Jimmy of a foul-mouthed kid. 'Shootin', replies his father.

And, not least as Creed-Miles bears a faint resemblance to Gary Cooper (or Kevin Costner), the climax has the whiff of a High Noon or OK Corral shoot-out about it. 'Is he here yet?' asks one of T's henchmen, as they wait for Bill at the showdown. 'Yeah,' snarls T, 'he's under the table.'

The kids are good and, like Bill, you'll warm to them.

David Quinlan

UK 2012. UK Distributor: The Works. Colour (unspecified).
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 17 Mar 2012