Gangster No. 1 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gangster No. 1 Reviews

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July 6, 2016
Great tone throughout and great cast.
April 29, 2016
Watch this and loved it, propa nutter this fool....think ima buy a hatchet.
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2016
Gangster No. 1 will never be the no. 1 gangster film, if nothing else, because its title is no good, 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.
December 6, 2015
A middle-aged crime boss (Malcolm McDowell) smugly reflects back from 1999, narrating the brutality which made him triumphant - and feared. As an unnamed young hood (Paul Bettany) in Swinging 60's London, he comes to the attention of a very influential London gangster, Freddie Mays (David Thewlis), who recruits him to be an enforcer. The Gangster is eager to please, and while his violent actions at first dismay Mays, he soon proves his loyalty to Mays with creative ways of murder. However, the Gangster quickly becomes obsessed with and deeply jealous of Mays' glamorous lifestyle and success and he is scheming to become Gangster No. 1. The Gangster soon discovers that Mays' main rival, Lennie Taylor (Jamie Foreman), is planning on killing Mays. Instead of warning his boss, the Gangster decides to let the attack take place, killing the only other member of his own gang who knew of the impending attack. It goes on as planned, and the Gangster sits in a car nearby to watch as Lennie and his gang shoot and stab Mays and slit the throat of his fiancée, Karen (Saffron Burrows). Later that same night the Gangster goes to Lennie's flat, shoots him in the leg, and then tortures him to death. The Gangster discovers the following day that Mays did not die in the attack, and is hospitalised. Upon his recovery, Mays is unjustly convicted of Taylor's murder and sent to prison for a 30-year sentence. With Mays out of his way, the Gangster becomes leader of the gang and consolidates his power over the city's underworld. But, when Mays is finally released on 1999, The Gangster simply can´t get over the fact that Mays never respected him and the crime empire he has built. He seeks a confrontation...

Gangster No. 1 is a stylish, brutal and black drama with comic undertones, but it also tries to be a hip crime-flick showing us the past and the present in one package. It´s hardly an original set up, the gangster genre has been so diluted since "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", with the young gangster trying to take over the older gangster´s empire. Paul Bettany´s performance stands out and he manages to be menacing, extremely violent and off his rockers. While Malcolm McDowell adds weight to the film, I personally think that he doesn´t manage to channelise Bettany´s gangster into an older version as they seems to be different in many ways (height, looks, voice etc). The crazy, electric, calculating and vicious gangster is gone, maybe due to age, but it doesn´t really add up. And I hear too much Alex de Large in Malcolm McDowell´s narrative. Plus the final confrontation ends in nothing special. I reckon you´d think that it would be more explosive. Or that´s just what the filmmaker wanted. The gangster simply never got a conclusion with his rivalry towards Mays and what he did to Mays. And the homage to James Cagney doesn´t fully work. "Gangster No. 1" is ok, but maybe adds not that much new to the genre.
½ June 20, 2015
I'm really done with cockney gangster films now, well I have been for a long time. It's astonishing that the UK just keeps on churning these out in the same way the U.S. did with mob movies, where are the original thinkers these days. Malcolm McDowell is guilty of overacting and I was surprised that Thewlis would get involved in such a film, especially as he was pretty miscast. The story is probably the only redeeming feature as it is not as bad as it could have been.
October 12, 2014
Malcolm McDowell, Malcolm "facking" McDowell
August 2, 2014
As excellent Paul Bettany was at playing Malcolm MacDowell, the whole thing got dragged down in being really psychotic.
August 1, 2014
Brutal, vicious, well acted, and over the top british thriller with a menacing and wonderful lead performance from Paul Bettany. The actors are all good but the film loses its energy and uniqueness by the end. we end up wonderfing is that all there is and why do we want to care about a bad man without any redeeming qualities. It could have been a classic.
½ December 26, 2013
Superb performance by Malcolm McDowel !
December 3, 2013
I thought this was a brilliant character study. Malcolm McDowell is brilliant as the old, experienced hardened gangster, but the real star for me personally, was Paul Bettany, who played the gangster's younger self. He paints this haunting and horrifying image of this sadistic sociopath who clearly wants to impress people he knows are his betters, but does his best to undermine them at every opportunity. What he is really left with in the end, is him being a cold, bitter man, who is clearly filled with regrets and false sense of satisfaction. I enjoyed this experience, and I really felt the journey of this man, watching him rise to power. It doesn't matter that the transition is glossed over, we got to know his character from various angles, and what you really need to see, is the end result. This is one of the finest British crime films, and it is up there with "Sexy Beast", where Ben Kingsley seemingly plays a similar type of character (although both are different and stand apart).
½ November 2, 2013
Outstanding British crime drama. Paul Bettany channels a bit of Alex Delarge in his performance. I'm amazed I hadn't seen this sooner.
August 9, 2013
Great cast, but it didn't grab me that much.
½ July 25, 2013
this movie in parts crosses into horror in my opinion. gangster no.1 played by paul bettany and malcolm mc dowell is a horrible horrible person and there is alot of insight into hi taughts in this film he actually reminds me abit of alex from a clock work orange with malcolm mc dowell but i think he is even worse with no fantasy to hide behind. I rate it between 3 and 3.5 i will give it 3.5 because its an unusual film.
½ May 28, 2013
origonal gangster movie but in some ways odd
½ May 15, 2013
This is a personal favorite UK gangster flick.
Super Reviewer
½ May 2, 2013
Has there ever been a double bill of American Psycho and this film? I think the comparisons are definitely present, the leads are both misogynists and probably both are frustrated and closeted homosexuals. Of course this film also reminds me, a little bit, of A Clockwork Orange, and not just because of the fact that Malcolm McDowell is in it. It's just the way some of the scenes are shot, most specifically the ultra-violent scene where *SPOILER* Ganster No. 1 kills Lennie Taylor. For some reason, this scene reminds me of something off a A Clockwork Orange. Not to mention the main character being an insane, cold-blooded man doesn't help with the comparisons to A Clockwork Orange or American Psycho. I really liked this movie to be honest, I found the development of No. 1 to be interesting and seeing how his obsession with Freddie plays out in the flashback scenes. They certainly have a weird relationship because it's clear that No. 1 respects Freddie and looks up to him, but there's also times where he loathes the man for, what he perceives to be, weakness. Like falling in love with Karen. There's also this side to No. 1 that seems to be in love with Freddie. They don't really make a big deal out of this, it's mostly body language and the way No. 1 behaves whenever Freddie's around a woman. I wouldn't say it's subtle, but if you're not paying attention you will completely miss out on a very important part of the main character's personality. If there was a problem with the film is that some of the more stylistic scenes don't do anything for me and just feel like an attempt to make the film "cooler", which it didn't really need since the film was cool enough as it is. For example when you see some of No. 1's violent acts, the screen shatters like glass and I have no idea what that was there for, because it looked like it was very cheaply done. There's also some scenes with No. 1 walking where he, and the screen, are consumed by fire. Again, good idea in theory but it looks lame in execution. If there's another problem with the film is that the flashback stuff, or the story of how No. 1 screwed Freddie and became the boss which comprises a LARGE part of the film, is infinitely superior to the stuff after Freddie comes out of prison. And the ending is also pretty corny in some parts, mostly in McDowell's performance and some of his lines. I thought that the acting was strong. Paul Bettany's performance took a little to grow on me, but I thought he was great as this psychopath with little to any redeeming qualities. The supporting cast is strong, but it's really the Paul Bettany show here and he delivers. I really liked this movie, it isn't without its flaws but it is an entertaining, violent, and intriguing story about a man's unhealthy obsession with his boss. Definitely a must-watch if you have Netflix Instant.
½ February 27, 2013
Great cast..... Awesome potential... But became paint by numbers
July 13, 2012
Outstanding film. Very violent, very tense, fairly funny, excellently made, and extremely well acted by McDowell and Bettany.
July 11, 2012
Chronicles the rise and fall of a prominent and particularly ruthless English gangster.
Director Paul McGuigans follow up to the surreal film 'The Acid House' is very much your standard rise and fall gangster film which have paved the genre for many years.

'Gangster No 1' is famous for Paul Bettany's debut performance but apart from a few impressive scenes involving the actor, the stand out being between Bettany and Eddie Marsan in Marsan's kitchen which is impressive.

Bettany doesn?t really have much to do. The best acting goes to the brilliant Eddie Marsan.
Overall 'Gangster No 1' is allot of style and very little originality, as well as the viewer never really caring for these nasty gangsters and other dull characters.
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