Release Date: 30th April 2014
Running Time:102 minutes
Director: Julian Gilbey
Starring:Ed Speelers, Will Poulter, Alfie Allen, Sebastian De Souza, Emma Rigby, Thomas Kretschmann
A group of young con artists and thieves chase after the elusive ‘last big score’ in Plastic; a film that wants to be The Inbetweeners crossed with Ocean’s 11 but is closer in tone to the cast of Skins doing Danny Dyer. If Plastic was a person that person would be shallow, self-obsessed, and deeply unpleasant company. Basically they’d be Patrick Bateman from American Psycho without the nice suits.
The gang of scammers, headed up by Ed Speelers’ Sam (a charmless blend of Harry Enfield’s Tim Nice But Dim and Michael Caine’s Alfie) lark about mugging elderly businessmen and stealing credit card details. They also have a sideline in witless banter and jaw-dropping misogyny. When they accidentally rip off the wrong man – scary Euro gangster Marcel – they are given an ultimatum; pay up £2 million in two weeks or moulder in a shallow grave. Naturally they opt for the former option, kicking off a plot that should have been put out to pasture about 15 years ago.
After an unexpected (but welcome) detour into the Scottish Highlands with mountaineering thriller A Lonely Place to Die, director Julian Gilbey returns to toil in the tired London gangster subgenre he made his name in with films like Rise of the Footsoldier and Rolling with the Nines. It’s the kind of film where characters are rascals and geezers with names like Yatesy and Fordy who can cook up an elaborate, expensive grift in the space of a couple of days. It’s based on a true story apparently, like Chris the crafty cockney from The Fast Show.
Beyond any issues with the story (and believe me there are plenty) Plastic is visually flat and uninspired. Scenes are so washed out and horrible to behold it looks like they were lit with supermarket style strip lighting. Worse still, despite being set in Miami and London – two of the most famous cities in the world – there’s no sense of place at any point in the film. We know we’re in Miami because they’re on the beach, just like we know we’re in London when we’re prowling the streets at night. It shares the same dubious politics as Pain & Gain, but at least Michael Bay’s film featured some flair and verve in its technical execution, something completely absent from Plastic.
With women reduced to eye candy and the sort of nihilistic materialism that rich old white people like to blame the London riots of 2011 on, this is a film so wrongheaded and offensive that a scene of a young white man disguising himself by blacking up barely registers on the list of its crimes. It’s just another moment of crass idiocy in a multitude of ill-judged unpleasantries.
It’s staggering that this film has a running time of one hour and forty minutes. It still feels a good forty minutes too long. Yet with a set of characters and scenarios as grotesque as this the longer we spend in the company of these creatures the more it makes the skin crawl. It’s cheap, disposable and tacky, it’s Plastic. Now cut it up and get yourself a new card.