Gangster No. 1 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gangster No. 1 Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 24, 2007
Gangster No. 1 will never be the no. 1 gangster film, if nothing else, because its title sucks, but it's got its charm. Paul Bettany plays a very believable psychotic mastermind, and Malcolm McDowell plays, well, a very believable psychotic mastermind all grown up. Plus, there's a lot of cool, well-shot violence. Lot of well-made sets and costumes, too. But the story is pretty predictable, mostly believable but certainly predictable.
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2011
Gangster 55: I'm Superman! King fucking Kong! I can pick you up and throw you a million miles. I'm number one. 

"It's not who you know, it's who you kill."

I'll admit it did take me awhile to warm up to Gangster No. 1, but it did turn out to be a really good English Gangster film. What won me over were the performances by Paul Bettany, Malcolm McDowell and David Thewlis. Each of those actors gave an outstanding performance. The movie chronicles the rise and fall of Gangster No. 55, played by Paul Bettany when he's young and Malcolm McDowell when he's old. Both actors really sell the character and make the Gangster a very interesting character. I always enjoy watching Malcolm McDowell and he gives a sinister performance. He also does an extremely good voice over throughout the entire movie. Bettany is equally sinister and really makes the movie.

Gangster No. 1 or as I prefer, The Gangster with No Name, does have it's flaws though. Many times the film comes of as an exercise in style of substance. It uses a lot of different editing techniques that I don't think helps the movie at all. If anything, I believe it hurts it. Like I said it did take me awhile to get into the movie. It didn't really become captivating until half way through, but from there on out it really is a great movie. Honestly I almost turned it off a few times in the firs 45 minutes, but I'm really glad a gave it a shot.

It's not going to be a gangster classic by any means. It borrows from a lot of previous films, but in the end it does separate it's self from all of them. It's a cool, stylistic and well-acted movie. 
Super Reviewer
½ December 24, 2010
I liked it for the extraordinary talents of Paul Bettany, who turned in one outstanding performance, as usual. It's an otherwise muddled mess the latter fourth of the film, however, when 25 years later an aged Bettany morphed into into Malcolm McDowell?? The logic ot that totally messed up the film for me. But, all in all, Bettany makes it worth the watch...because, let's face it...he is the bomb! :)
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2010
"There can only be ONE."

Chronicles the rise and fall of a prominent, and particularly ruthless English gangster.

What a mug! The evil-harlequin mask of Malcolm McDowell, so familiar from those bugeyed closeups of him "mounching lumpchiks of toast" in A Clockwork Orange, has aged into a fabulous ruin. And one of the pleasures of the glib, slick, cocky, brutal, shallow, and terrifically entertaining Gangster No. 1 is in the realization that McDowell is the same McDowell--his voiceover has the same energetic sneer it had 31 years ago in Clockwork. He's the same guy under a withered and weathered facade. As Gangster No. 1--a sociopath with a schoolgirl crush on his boss, spit-shined David Thewlis--McDowell brings you into the succulent pleasures of aged corruption and long-swallowed brutality. No. 1's nuttiness--a kind of belch of guilt, generally released in Francis Bacon-derivative silent screams--seems, for a while, like fun. Paul Bettany, playing Young No. 1, has a great, lizardlike, histrionic deadpan--he keeps telling his victims "Look into my eyes!" as if something scary and deep were hidden there. (Instead, there is zero--an effect Young No. 1 may be unaware of.) The movie takes such a jaunty and directorially piquant view of its own shin-kicking nihilism that you can't help but play along; until the moralizing but utterly earned finale sets you on your ear.

Not deep stuff--not even as deep as the superbly unself-reflective head-smackers who made up Goodfellas' crew. But Saffron Burrows, as a Cockney chanteuse who's mad in love with Thewlis' Mr. Big, brings you back to the days of much-posher-and-prettier-than-their-parts British character actresses. And the director, Paul McGuigan, and Bettany keep the joint jumpin'.
Super Reviewer
August 4, 2008
pretty enjoyable tale of the rise of a ruthless gangster in sixties mod london. the director's frenetic style is kind of annoying tho he's obviously cribbed some tricks from scorsese and guy ritchie. i gotta put this a notch below sexy beast and layer cake in spite of a few powerful scenes and the great work of bettany and thewlis. and mad malcolm is always worth watching :)
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2008
Yet another British Gangster movie.Seen it all before and we british can make and do better movies!!
Super Reviewer
½ June 6, 2007
No matter how much I enjoy these performers, this genre, Malcolm McDowell's deliciously sinister voice over, and the swingin' sixties period where most of the story takes place, I just can't hide the deficiencies of this reasonably entertaining British gangster flick.
What seemed to be promising was suddenly sunk by the incompetent Paul McGuigan and his artsy, video clip directing style. I was willing to forgive the man and enjoy the story, but I find out it wasn't too good either. I felt that great actors like David Thewlis, Paul Bettany and the mentioned McDowell weren't properly used, they were all like mere set pieces immerse in a sea of overused topics.
Super Reviewer
½ April 25, 2007
Great perfromances by Paul Bettany and Malcolm McDowell sharing the lead role as younger and older versions of a psychotic gangester.

Quite a different angle from most British Grangster films and is really aimed at the obsession of becoming the top dog at any cost.

VERDICT: If you like your ganster style films, then this is one that needs to be on your list. If you're sensitvie to strong language, give this film a wide birth.
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2007
I blind bought this film on DVD the other day, after a recommendation from a friend and after looking at the case and realizing Malcolm Fucking McDowell was in it!! Anyway, this is a supremely cool, ultra stylistic (and at times, brutal) look at the life of a British gangster (as an older man, played by McDowell, and for the majority of the film by Paul Bettany, as a younger man), who lives in the shadow of and eventually usurps power from the ultra smooth Freddy Mays (David Thewlis). Just to take care of the bad first, the one thing I didn't like about the film is the inconsistency - the directing technique was packed with jazz and style (a little much at times) and all sorts of different techniques, but then the filmmaker just sort of turned this off for the second half of the film, and it became a much more stylistically grounded and brutal film. The whole flashback (which comprises 90% of the film) was sporadically narrated by McDowell from the present, although it was more of a commentary than a narrative, this also worked sometimes and not sometimes. Other than that though, this was a really cool film for people who love gangster films. I dug the story of the man living in the shadow of his master, who becomes totally consumed with trying to become him, until he gets to the point where he has forgot himself. The performances of both McDowell and Bettany were absolutely phenomenal. I was never very familiar with Paul Bettany's work before now but I want to see more of him, because he awesome here, totally and utterly deadly. I am so glad to see McDowell in another really good role like this, too. Overall, this is a somewhat flawed, but still very good film, and it would be highly enjoyed by anyone into the gangster genre, if you are, check it the fuck out.
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2006
Electrifying, riveting and exhilerating entertainment. A brilliant gangster drama. One of the best since Goodfellas. A film that truly takes it's place as one of the true crime classic's. Stunning, stylish, brutal and teriffic. Paul Bettaney gives a knockout performance which is movie star calibur. Malcom McDowell is magnificent.
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2006
This is a film I really enjoyed. Mainly because of the performace of Paul Bettany, probably the first role i saw him in. Malcom McDoweel is also very good but I can't comment on it much because i was quite young when i saw it lol. One to watch again i think.
Super Reviewer
½ October 29, 2011
A great British gangster movie. It's violent, scary, thrilling and a little psychotic.

The Good:
The movie is not filled completely with action but you will never be bored. The acting is superb and you will be genuinely interested in the story and characters. There is lots of blood as well.

The Bad:
Not much bad I can say, unless you don't like awesomeness.

Acting: 10/10
Story: 9/10
Originalality: 8/10
Soundtrack: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Overall: 9.2/10
Super Reviewer
½ April 28, 2009
This is a movie that unabashedly flaunts its influences, both in terms of execution and narrative structure. Although at times it's overstylized, I found it an enjoyable watch as a fan of the crime-drama genre. The acting all around is terrific. Paul Bettany is so convincing, it's eerie. And David Thewlis, an actor who I'm becoming more and more fond of, does a top-notch job portraying an aged criminal mentor. By the end of the movie, it had caught me up so well despite its flaws. The conclusion left me feeling unsatisfied. Ultimately, the film sells itself short.
Super Reviewer
½ May 2, 2009
WOW. This movie was not at all what I thought it was gonna be. Even though I've never seen it, the best way I could describe this movie is a cross between Clockwork Orange and The Godfather...? This film is the story about Gangster #55 and his obsession with climbing to the top of the British criminal underworld. Yes, I found another Brit crime flick to watch! This movie was definitely more psychological than action, though there was plenty of violence and drama in the mix. Gangster #55 starts off as some nobody who gets handpicked by the Butcher of Mayfair, Freddie Mays and quickly ascends the ranks to become his #2. I assumed this would just be another crime drama with funny dialogue, hedonism and violence. Well, there was that, and the mental aspect of it. #55 is one for the books. Paul Bettany plays him as a youth, and Malcolm McDowell plays him when he's older. Watching his mental descent into madness is really a trip. Bettany really brings it, and McDowell makes for a good bully.
Super Reviewer
March 26, 2009
McDowell and Bettany portray brilliantly a man who simply wants to "sit on the throne" - the trick is that we know nothing about him: no background, no friends, no family and no name - and we never do. He's almost two-dimensional. It's shot vividly and starkly with a lot of invention as a part Macbeth/part Absolute Power, with a brilliant final third as McDowell is pounded with realisation. An original and slick British gangster film.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2008
Harrowing and stylish film that has it's heart in the right place; pumping blood.
This is the first film I saw Paul Bettany in, and is probably still the best performance I've seen from him. McDowell is his usual over the top self, which I love.
The story is strange, it treats the gangster genre more like a portrait of an evil serial killer, which I'm sure Gangster would have been if he hadn't found an organization that doesn't look poorly on psychopaths. A great film that can be watched multiple times. I'M NUMBER ONE!
Super Reviewer
½ June 1, 2007
A bit of a let dowm. Could have been so much more.
Super Reviewer
April 23, 2007
Another British crime movie that I enjoyed, better than Sexy Beast. Isn't laced with humor like Lock, Stock or Snatch, but doesn't need to be. I enjoyed it more than Layer Cake too, but maybe because I wasn't expecting as much this time around. Bettany made the movie, his character was awesome.
½ June 7, 2011
Just saw this, Malcolm McDowel is very hateable, but this Movie was a Bit Weak.Paul Bettany takes over while McDowel is in Prison, yada yada yada.Not that good
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