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  Bull Getting His Own Back
Year: 2021
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Stars: Neil Maskell, David Hayman, Tamzin Outhwaite, Lois Brabin-Pratt, David Nellist, Henri Charles, Ajay Chhabra, Jake Davies, Kevin Harvey, Laura McAlpine, Jason Milligan, Yassine Mkhichen, Kellie Shirley, Jay Simpson, Mark Springer, Chris Coghill
Genre: Horror, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bull (Neil Maskell) is a man with a grudge: his life has been ruined by association with a group of very unsavoury types, and now he means to get his revenge. He used to be the Mr Fixit for gangster Norm (David Hayman), who had his fingers in a number of pies, including making actual pies at a local butcher's. Bull would be his strongarm tactic, the underling who was happy to carry out the violence and even killings because he was good at it, and thanks to his lack of compromise and easy way with a large blade, Norm was doing very well. So well, in fact, that Bull had been allowed to marry his daughter Gemma (Lois Brabin-Pratt), with whom the heavy had a boy. But lately Gemma had been disappointing Bull, and he started to protest...

Paul Andrew Williams had been the director of violent dramas and genre flicks out of Britain just after the turn of the millennium, but in the decade previous to this little item had been concentrating on television work, making Bull a return to the big screen for him, and one which would likely prove controversial. His previous film had been an uncharacteristic sentimental comedy that had made little impression, therefore you could view this as falling back on the brutality that had gotten audiences interested in the first place, yet there was an element here that was not going to go down well with everyone who watched it. That was down to it starting off as one thing and developing into something else in the last act, yes, we were forewarned, but nevertheless.

With this you could place it in the section of Brit gangster movies that did not fit the template afforded by your usual beer and a pizza supermarket DVD on a Friday night effort that it swaggered in as. Well, perhaps swaggered was not quite appropriate, it was a moody, cold piece for the most part, held together by Maskell's powerful presence and to an extent Hayman's too as they sparred verbally in dialogue that was sadly on the mumbled side, which did not render the plot any easier to follow, especially in the early stages. Once it had grown clearer what was happening - Bull is on the warpath to get back at those who separated him from his son, who he dotes on but is seemingly not the best influence on him - you should be prepared to have the rug pulled from under you by the final revelation, making the most of allusions to a certain Clint Eastwood Western as well as hybrids like Dead Man's Shoes or The Kill List.

To say any more would be to reveal too much, though one presumed the twist could be worked out if you were noticing that with its regular bursts of nasty bloodshed, this film was as much a horror as it was a grim crime drama or low budget thriller. It was an ending that tended to overshadow everything that went before it, and that was by design, so perfectly fair, but it was the one aspect you could guarantee anyone who saw it was going to have an opinion on. In one way, you could ask, hey, how else would they have finished it? In a style that was going to live up to the relentless quality of the avenging angel (or demon) personality of its title character, that was, and if you were open minded you could say, fine, this is one of those films not content to stick with one approach or genre. It was just that the studied mundanity of cups of tea in the front room, or the local fairground as the very pinnacle of entertainment, betrayed those who thought they were enjoying a geezer-tastic gangland beat 'em up, though doubtless that was part of the fun for the filmmakers, who at least were trying something with a degree of audacity. Music by Raffertie.

[Signature Entertainment presents Bull exclusively at UK Cinemas from 5 November with previews on 2 November 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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